The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Purged terror temple opens gates

Jammu, Nov. 27: Raghunath temple reopened today amid religious chants and sprinkling of holy water, three days after it was attacked by militants.

The shrine had been closed since Sunday’s strike, which left 13 people dead and 50 injured, both for security reasons and also because it had to be “purified” before prayers could resume.

“We have to go by the religious dictates in such matters,” explained Ajatshatru Singh, grandson of Maharaja Hari Singh, the last Dogra king of the state. The erstwhile royal family controls Dharmarth Trust that manages most temples in Jammu and Kashmir.

The main gate of the temple, which opens into Raghunath bazaar, will remain closed for a few more days and devotees will have to use a side entrance.

A large number of priests held a special yagna to purify the temple complex as policemen, armed with guns and explosive-detecting devices, stood guard. Hundreds of devotees flocked to the shrine.

“My heart bleeds, but I have got strength from the devotion of the people,” chief priest Vishal Shastry said.

Even as the purification ceremony was on, chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed admitted that the attack reflected a “lapse on our part”. “It is our inefficiency,” he stressed.

The attackers had sought to create communal disturbance in the region and derail the peace process undertaken by his government, he said.

It was wrong to suggest that the release of militants by his government had led to such attacks, Mufti added. “They are our own people while those who mount attacks on the shrines have sinister motives.”

Predecessor Farooq Abdullah, who drove straight to the temple from the airport, echoed him. He has returned after performing Umrah in Saudi Arabia.

Farooq said the attack on the temple was designed to cause communal conflgaration, hit the economy of the region and to raise the level of violence in the state. He also advised Mufti to review his policy of freeing militants as that was raising their confidence level.

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