Nepal govt dragged to court over Pashupatinath's treasury row

A Nepalese Hindu has dragged the government to court over its decision to open the main treasury of Nepal's famous Pashupatinath Temple that is believed to have remained padlocked for centuries.

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

Jangam has argued that the caretaker government has no right to open the more than 2000-year-old treasury of the Hindu 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. Jangam, who had earlier dragged the Maoists to court over its decision to dismiss Indian Brahmins from the holy

Hindu shrine, has argued that in a secular state the government has no rights to interfere in religious matters.

If the government cannot open the treasury of a Buddhist monastery or a Christian church how can it interfere with the valuable assets of the Pashupatinath temple, he asked.

The main treasury 'mul dhukuti' of Pashupatinath is believed to contain priceless items, including Nagmani (snake jewel), Gajamani (elephant jewel), Nilmani, (blue precious stone).

Last month, the government decided to open the treasury to maintain a record of the valuables and to ensure their safety, said officials at Pashupati Area Development Trust (PADT), that manages the affairs of the temple.

"We have also formed a 22-member committee to keep records of the treasury and to manage the valuables," PADT's treasurer Narottam Vaidya said.

PADT officials say they are planning to open the treasury and list the valuable items in order to properly manage them and to make the affairs transparent.

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