Janaki temple priest denies inviting prez

Janakpurdham, December 19

Priest Ramtapeswor Das Baishnab at Janaki temple today said President Bidhya Devi Bhandari had visited the holy site and offered prayers at the temple at her own will.

Organising a press meet in Janakpur, priest Das made it clear that they had not invited any special guest or ascetics from India due to the four-month-long agitation in the Tarai.

“The President visited the temple at her own will,” said Das. He said he had welcomed the President with garland as it is part of their tradition to welcome visitors to the temple.

“It is part of our tradition to welcome visitors, notwithstanding their financial or social status,” said Das, adding, that they had not committed any mistake by welcoming the President.

“There is no need to make a mountain out of a molehill,” he said. He said that a certain section of people were trying to politicise the incident.

Demanding a fair probe into the incident, he said a certain section of the people were trying to destroy the sanctity of the Janaki temple. “These same people attacked the temple with stones and resorted to vandalising the temple on the day of Bibaha Panchami,” he said.

Das remarked that he was committed to protecting the temple since he became the priest almost 19 years ago. He said he would resign from the post if found guilty of financial irregularities.

Meanwhile, a probe committee formed to investigate police highhandedness and vandalism at the temple during the President’s visit to the temple has begun its work. The team formed under the coordination of Federal Socialist Forum Nepal Dhanusha District Chairman Sesh Narayan Yadav inquired about the incident with priest Ramtapeswor Das today. Das told the team that they had not invited President Bhandari for the festival.

Police personnel had charged batons and fired tear gas shells to bring the situation under control after the United Democratic Madheshi Front cadres took to the streets protesting President Bhandari’s visit to the temple. More than two dozen people, including agitators, police personnel and devotes were injured in the incident.