The Pashupati Area Development Trust, which is gearing up to welcome devotees for the Mahashivaratri festival, has stepped up vigilance and said it will act tough on those who indulge in illegal activities, including trading in and marijuana, bhang, hashish and alcohol during the festival.
The Mahashivaratri festival will be observed on February 17.
Possessing, selling, distributing and smuggling marijuana and other narcotics are punishable by the Narcotic Drugs (Control) Act, 1976.
Sadhus usually are found smoking pot around Pashupatinath Temple, but some youngsters try to use the Mahashivaratri festival to indulge in consuming marijuana, hashish and other forms of such drugs.
PADT said more than 5,000 security personnel will be deployed in and around Pashupatinath Temple to ensure that no anti-social activities take place under the pretext of celebrating the Mahashivaratri festival.
According to Taranath Subedi, treasurer, PADT, only sadhus and saints who have travelled to Pashupatinath Temple, one of the holiest Hindu sites, from various parts of Nepal and India will be permitted to puff marijuana and consume hallucinating substances for their personal recreation on the religious ground.
However, they will be strictly barred from selling marijuana and other such substances to youngsters and devotees and will be punished as per the existing law
if found doing so. Similarly, sadhus found involved in suspicious activities will be evicted from the premises of Pashupatinath Temple.
“The government used to provide sadhus with hallucinating substances on the occasion of Mahashivaratri festival in the past. But since last year the practice has been stopped. Sadhus wishing to consume such substances manage on their own,” he informed.
“Youngsters and devotees consuming liquor and marijuana in and around Pashupatinath Temple could find themselves behind bars,” he warned, adding locals and tourists will be under vigilance. “It is necessary to control and monitor illegal activities to avoid any untoward incident. Consumption of drugs will spoil the environment,” added Subedi.
A special task force will be deployed at various transit points, temple premises, river banks, cremation site, forest and caves to check on the sadhus.
The campaign to stop sadhus from selling drugs to youngsters and devotees was launched in 2010.