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Nepal police arrest 80 cannabis users at Hindu temple

By Pratibha Tuladhar –

KATMANDU, Nepal — Police in Nepal arrested 80 people on Monday for using cannabis at the country’s biggest Hindu temple, in the capital Katmandu, where celebrations for the Shivaratri festival were under way.

“We also arrested 42 others on charges of pickpocketing,” said police officer Dhiraj Pratap Shah.

Thousands of pilgrims travel from all over Nepal and India to the ancient Pashupatinath temple every year to mark Shivaratri, devoted to the Hindu god Shiva.

Ascetics, who usually lead a life of abstinence and meditation, smoke cannabis, inspired by Shiva, who is also said to have smoked. Others visiting the temple also smoke cannabis as a traditional part of the festival.

Nearly 5,000 police officers were deployed to maintain law and order at the temple.

The authorities step up efforts every year ahead of the festival to clamp down on drug dealing at the festivities.

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