Security stepped up for MahashivaratriMore than a million devotees are expected to visit the Pashupati temple tomorrow to celebrate the festival.
Police have beefed up security in the Pashupati area and major entry points of Kathmandu ahead of the Mahashivaratri festival which is being celebrated on Friday.
According to the Metropolitan Police Range, Kathmandu as many as 4,500 personnel in uniform and plainclothes will be mobilised to check on criminal activities and to maintain law and order. Police have also warned of strict action against anyone found involved in buying or selling of marijuana on the pretext of celebrating the festival.
“Not only will we keep a close eye on buying and selling of marijuana but will also check on other criminal activities, like pick-pocketing, snatching,” said Senior Superintendent Uttam Raj Subedi, chief of Kathmandu Metropolitan Police Range. “We have already mobilised our personnel at major entry points and in the Pashupati area.”
According to Subedi, security personnel will be deployed in three shifts to maintain law and order during the festival.
Controlling the use and supply of marijuana during the Shivaratri festival has been a challenge for police every year. Smoking marijuana during the festival has been a norm of sorts for many people who visit the Pashupati temple on the occasion. Although the government banned the use and sale of marijuana and its derivatives in 1973, the authorities have been lenient on their use during Mahashivaratri.
However, police have warned that anyone found possessing, selling, distributing and smuggling of marijuana and other narcotics will be charged under the Narcotic Drugs Control Act 1976.
“We have already arrested seven people for their involvement in buying and selling marijuana in the Pashupati area,” SP Subedi told the post.
“Police will also be helping to manage the queues for the devotees to offer their prayers at the Pashupati temple,” said Deputy Inspector General Biswaraj Pokharel, chief of Metropolitan Police Office, Ranipokhari. “We have also made a traffic plan to ease traffic congestion on the day.”
According to the Pashupati Area Development Trust, preparations for the festival are almost over.
“In the past, only sadhus were permitted to consume marijuana. However, there will be a complete restriction on the use of such substances,” said Pradeep Dhakal, member secretary of the PADT.
Dhakal said all four gates of the temple would be open for devotees from 3am on the day of the festival when more than a million devotees are expected to visit the temple.
“We have already set up emergency health service centres, security posts, information desks, first-aid treatment centres and temporary toilets,” said Dhakal.