Nepal govt dragged to court over Pashupatinath''s treasury row

Shirish B Pradhan

Kathmandu, Jan 29 (PTI) A Nepalese Hindu has draggedthe government to court over its decision to open the maintreasury of Nepal''s famous Pashupatinath Temple that isbelieved to have remained padlocked for centuries.

Bharat Jangam, a Hindu activist and writer, has fileda PIL in the Supreme Court on Thursday, pleading to strikedown the decision taken by the caretaker government to openthe main treasury of the fifth century shrine.

Jangam has argued that the caretaker government has noright to open the more than 2000-year-old treasury of theHindu shrine.

The court is set to hear the case on Monday.

Located on the banks of the Bagmati river,Pashupatinath is regarded as the most sacred temple of Shiva(Pashupati) and the oldest Hindu shrine in Nepal.

The temple is also listed in UNESCO World CulturalHeritage Site list.

Jangam, who had earlier dragged the Maoists to courtover its decision to dismiss Indian Brahmins from the holyHindu shrine, has argued that in a secular state thegovernment has no rights to interfere in religious matters.

If the government cannot open the treasury of aBuddhist monastery or a Christian church how can it interferewith the valuable assets of the Pashupatinath temple, heasked.

However, a legitimate government can do the same byenacting a separate act after holding consultations with Hinduscholars and priests and othe prestigious people, heunderlined.

The main treasury � ''mul dhukuti'' � of Pashupatinathis believed to contain priceless items, including Nagmani(snake jewel), Gajamani (elephant jewel), Nilmani, (blueprecious stone).

Last month, the government decided to open thetreasury to maintain a record of the valuables and to ensuretheir safety, said officials at Pashupati Area DevelopmentTrust (PADT), that manages the affairs of the temple.

"We have also formed a 22-member committee to keeprecords of the treasury and to manage the valuables," PADT�streasurer Narottam Vaidya told PTI.

Jangam claimed that the keys of the treasures werekept by Hindu Kings in the past, but no one knows theirwhereabout.

To open the treasury the lock must be broken and beinga Hindu we don�t allow the caretaker government to break thesacred treasury, he said.

However, PADT officials say they are planning to openthe treasury and list the valuable items in order to properlymanage them and to make the affairs transparent.

The people have every right to know about thetreasures of the temple, said Vaidya.

The PADT is also planning to establish a museum withinthe temple premises where the valuable and priceless itemswill be kept for public display, he added.

But now we have to wait the Supreme Court�s decision,the temple''s treasurer said.

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