KATHMANDU, March 9, My Republica: In view of the rampant trade of marijuana during the Maha Shivaratri festival, the government authorities have warned that sadhus found selling the drug to devotees on the pretext of offering prasad would be arrested.The authorities have warned that those buying marijuana from the “sadhus” would not be spared either. However, the authorities said sadhus would be permitted to smoke marijuana in the honor of Lord Shiva, said the officials.The Pashupati Area Development Trust (PADT) will deploy volunteers to keep an eye on the sadhus and youngsters, who throng the Pashupati temple during the festival to smoke marijuana.The Nepal Police has already deployed plainclothesmen and about 100 additional police officers would be deployed on Sunday for the festival, said officials.

“In the past, youngsters visited the temple to smoke marijuana during the festival, but this year it won´t happen,” said PADT member secretary Sushil Nahata.

We have asked the District Administration Office (DAO) and the police to arrest drug procurers, he added. About eight sadhus have already been detained for illegal drug possession and released after being warned, Nahata told Republica.

Chief District Officer of Kathmandu Chudamani Sharma, said, “I have instructed the police and others to punish drug procurers and users. As we have installed CCTVs and made a separate living arrangement for sadhus, we hope we will not witness people openly smoking marijuana, he said.

Some Indian sadhus have expressed dissatisfaction at sudden seizure of their bags by the security personnel on suspicion of drug possession.

Bainju Masani, 59, a sadhu from Sitamadhi, Bihar, said, “I had a cooking pot and some clothes in the bag but the plainclothesmen on Thursday night seized my bag accusing me of bringing marijuana from India to sell during the festival.”

Inspector Pawan Kumar Bhattarai of Metropolitan Police Sector, Gaushala said, “We have already deployed plainclothesmen in the suspected areas a week ago. This will help us identify drug peddlers and punish them.”

He said the police have being keeping eye on sadhus, especially to see if they have been dealing in marijuana. “If they are caught procuring the drug to devotees, we will punish them under the drug control Act. We have identified some areas, such as Ram Mandir and Bankali area of Pashupatinath, as prone to drug dealing and have arranged security accordingly,” said Bhattarai.