Authorities in Nepal have arrested 279 people over the last five months in a crackdown on the sale and use of cannabis inside a major Hindu temple in Kathmandu, a police officer said Monday.
Police said they have charged 116 with illegal use and possession of cannabis and other drugs, and released the rest after warnings.
“We have sent some of the drug users to rehabilitation centres. There were 20 children and 18 women among those arrested,” said Anup Shrestha, a Deputy Superintendent of Police in Kathmandu.
He said three holy men were also among those arrested.
Shrestha said the crackdown began in September after authorities received complaints about the widespread use and sale of drugs inside Pashupatinath Temple complex, a UN World Heritage Site thronged by Hindu pilgrims from India and Nepal.
Thousands of Indian holy men visit the temple during the Hindu festival of Shivaratri, which falls on February 13 this year.
While the holy men are allowed to smoke cannabis during the festival, others have been taking the opportunity to indulge in the drug themselves.