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Indian priests willing to return after Nepal temple row

Indian priests willing to return after Nepal temple row

The priests said they were willing to return to India instead of being insulted.

Kathmandu: After the attacks on two Indian priests by Maoists, the chief priest of Pashupatinath temple on Sunday said he and his four colleagues were ready to return to India rather than face "humiliation".

"The newly appointed Indian priests are not refugees taking shelter at the temple, we have brought them from Karnataka, after fulfilling all the criteria and following due process as per the Act and following centuries old tradition", chief priest Mahabaleshwor Bairy said.

They were willing to return to India instead of staying at the temple with "humiliation", the chief priest from Karnataka's Udipi district said.

His remarks came a day after the priests Girish Bhatta and Raghavendra Bhatta, both 32 and hailing from Hassan district of Karnataka, were severely thrashed by some 40-50 Maoists, who entered the shrine posing as devotees. The priests' clothes were torn and their sacred thread cut by the former rebels, who were protesting their recent appointment.

Nepal's Minister for Culture Minendra Rijal on Sunday said that the chief priest was "very sad" after the Maoists attack.

The fifth century temple has a tradition of appointing Indian priests since the 12th century. But the Maoists are demanding that local priests be appointed to the temple, they have also accused them of siphoning off temple funds.
first published:September 06, 2009, 17:58 IST