Kathmandu, January 26
Pashupati Area Development Trust with the help of police is all set to declare Pashupati area a marijuana-free zone.
PADT officials said police would be authorised to interrogate any person, including sadhus, suspected of dealing in the contraband on the temple’’s premises after the declaration. PADT is taking the move in view of the upcoming Mahashivaratri festival, which falls on February 13, this year.
During the festival, tens of thousands of devotees from different parts of the country and India visit Pashupatinath temple to offer prayers. Mostly drug peddlers in the guise of sadhus sell marijuana to drug abusers, according to PADT Secretary Pradeep Dhakal. He added that even sadhus wouldn’’t be allowed to carry or smoke marijuana on the temple’’s premises.
District Superintendent of Police Anupam Shrestha at Metropolitan Police Circle, Gausala, said even the sadhus would be arrested if found carrying marijuana for the purpose of selling it to drug abusers.
According to police, two sadhus have been charged under the Narcotic Drugs (control) Act within the last six months. “The religious sentiment is one of the major reasons that has hindered our operation, but we have been highly successful in controlling the use of marijuana in Pashupati area,” said DSP Shrestha.
As many as 279 persons, including 18 women, have been arrested from the Pashupati area for smoking marijuana and using other drugs in the last six months. Of them, 36 were charged under Narcotic Drugs (control) Act and 80 with public offense. Likewise, 10 were handed over to drug rehabilitation centres and health care facilities, and 153 youngsters were handed over to their guardians.
The law prohibits use, purchase and sale marijuana. Pashupatinath temple covers an area of 264 hectares and people indulging in drugs in Gujeshowri, Mrigasthali, Biswarup and Ram Mandir areas is a common sight, according to police.
A version of this article appears in print on January 27, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.