buddha's birthplace scandal

'Officials helped tourists bury human remains on Mayadevi Temple premises'

Published On: April 12, 2018 06:30 AM NPT By: Rekha Bhusal

BUTWAL, April 12: Recently human remains and ash were recovered near the Mayadevi Temple in Lumbini. Since the finding at the world heritage site, serious security concerns are being raised by stakeholders. Lumbini Development Trust manages the site, revered as the birthplace of Lord Gautam Buddha. 

A source, who did not wanted to be named, claim that 'illegal activities' are going inside the temple premises with active involvement of some of the trustees. Human hair, teeth, nails, wrist band and human ash, among other things were found buried near the temple. 

The source further claimed that Taiwanese tourists that had visited the temple on March 26 buried the human remains in the premises. Upon internal investigations, the trustees have suspected involvement of security force as well as some of the trust members. In its report, it has accused 18 trustees of allowing illegal activities inside the temple. 

The temple premise is guarded with heavy security round the clock. Armed Police Force, Nepal Army and Nepal Police personal guard it. Along with them, even Tourist Police also guard the premises. Despite heavy presence of the security personal, finding buried human remains in the premises have shocked people and the management team. 

“We are dumb founded. This is really shocking. Our investigation report says that this has happened with the involvement of our own staffs and security personal,” said Saroj Bhattarai, acting member secretary of the trust. 

According to the source, a Taiwanese group had entered the temple of the evening of 26 April. They dug earth and buried things in it after performing some lengthy rituals.

Conceding that the finding of human remains in the core zone has been a serious breach of security arrangements, he stated that due action would be taken against those involved.
Bhattarai shared that huge investments have been made to modernize the security at the site including in hiring human resources for securing the world heritage. Since some of the guards and trustee themselves have been involved in breaching the sanctity of the site, he said that the Trust is reviewing overall aspect of the security arrangement. 

"Investigation has revealed that personnel involved sold their morality for petty gains. It is very disappointing that our own team seriously compromised the security system that we had all built," Bhattarai said. 

Citing the report, he said that the staffs and security personals asked for just Rs 1,000 each for letting the foreigners bury the human remains in the premises. 

Senior officials involved?

Some locals are not ready to buy Bhattarai's arguments. They doubt that such security breach cannot take place unless senior officials, like Bhattarai, are involved in it. Requesting anonymity, a local resident, stated that junior staffs and security officials cannot make such deals without the assistance of senior officials. The source claimed that the Trust prepared a fake report accusing junior officials after the news of burial leaked out in the media. 

"How can security of the temple be breached so massively without the involvement of the senior officials in it? I suspect that the recent revelation is just the tip of an iceberg. This seems to be huge game and must be investigated by forming a high level inquiry committee," the resident said. 

Some of the residents even went further in suspecting that the such activities might have been carried within the premises since long. And some even expressed fears that in lack of regular monitoring and inspection by government authorities, the trustee officials might have been involved in other irregularities as well. 

Tight security only for commoners?

When it comes to commoners, security at the site is very tight. To enter Mayadevi temple, one has to go through tight security examinations. Slippers and bags are not allowed inside the temple premises, flowers and plants cannot be touched and digging the ground for soil is strictly prohibited. Digging of the ground is high matter of concern as many people show temptation to carry the temple's soil home.

But finding of the human remains in the temple area has simply made fun of the security provisions. Some of the residents even assumed that the tourists might have buried the remains for some tantric purpose. 

According to the source, a Taiwanese group had entered the temple of the evening of 26 April. They dug earth and buried things in it after performing some lengthy rituals. Chudamani Bhattarai, a senior trustee and one of the two-member investigation committee, informed that the human remains weighed around 6 kg. 

The investigation committee was formed after local residents piled up pressure on the Trust to launch a formal investigation into the matter. Another member of the investigating committee was Himal Upreti, an officer from the Department of Archeology.


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