Saturday, September 5, 2009

Attack on priests criminal: India

Attack on priests criminal: India

BANGALORE/ NEW DELHI/ KATHMANDU: India on Saturday described the attack on priests in Nepal’s Pashupatinath temple as an unprovoked and criminal act of violence that goes against ‘‘the grain of the civilisational ties of friendship that have existed since time immemorial between the peoples of Nepal and India’’.

Foreign minister S M Krishna said India has already done enough to ensure the safety and security of the two Karnataka-based priests. ‘‘Nepal is a sovereign country and we have had traditionally good relationships with Nepal. I am sure they will do enough to ensure such incidents don’t recur,’’ Krishna said.

‘‘India shares historical bond with Nepal, in Kashi priests from Nepal perform the pujas and in Pashupatinath it is the Indian priests. It is a tradition being followed from centuries. So I think there should no problem between us,’’ Krishna said.

He said he was aware ofMaoist pressure on temple authorities to prevent Indian priests from conducting religious ceremonies and Nepal government had no role in it.

In New Delhi, the external affairs ministry said, ‘‘The matter was immediately taken up through our embassy in Kathmandu at the highest levels in the government of Nepal and our concerns conveyed. The safety and security of Indian citizens abroad is an abiding and core concern of the government of India and we continue to closely monitor the situation surrounding the unfortunate incident in Kathmandu,’’ said official sokesperson Vishnu Prakash.

India’s ambassador took up the matter immediately at the political level and the police authorities were also contacted. A team from the embassy in Kathmandu visited the Pashupatinath Temple to reassure the Indian priests. ‘‘We understand that the Nepalese authorities have apprehended over 25 persons in connection with this incident, including the ring leader,’’ said Prakash.

Culture minister Minendra Kumar Rijal and Indian ambassador to Nepal Rakesh Sood offered puja at the temple on Saturday morning when it was kept closed to other visitors for fear of a fresh attack on the newly-appointed priests.
The Nepal PM vowed tough action against the attackers. ‘‘The government is stunned by the uncivilised, barbaric attack,’’ Rijal said. ‘‘It’s an attempt to damage the age-old harmonious relations between India and Nepal.’’


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