Pashupati declared ‘marijuana-free zone’

Kathmandu, January 28

Pashupati Area Development Trust with the help of police today declared Pashupati area a ‘marijuana-free zone’ in view of the upcoming Mahashivaratri festival.

PADT also announced plans to organise the festival in a grand manner.

During the Mahashivaratri festival, which falls on February 13 this year, tens of thousands of devotees from different parts of the country and India visit Pashupatinath temple to offer prayers. Drug peddlers, some of them in the guise of sadhus, also visit the temple to sell marijuana to drug abusers during the festival as prasad from Lord Shiva, according to PADT Secretary Pradeep Dhakal.

Dhakal said PADT took the move as Pashupati area had become a haven for marijuana smokers and drug abusers.

“We hope the move will discourage smoking of marijuana in the name of religious practice,” he added.

Police said even 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. 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 the 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.

PADT said that a ban would also be imposed on the purchase and sale of alcohol and meat in the Pashupati area.

It said the December 26 decision to ban vehicles inside the Pashupati temple complex would also be strictly implemented. The Bankali area has been designated for parking vehicles.

Meanwhile, PADT said ongoing reconstruction of the temples destroyed in the 2015 earthquakes would create some difficulties for devotees to access the temple.

Around 27 temples are undergoing reconstruction in the area.