Police have used water cannon to disperse locals and members of guthis (community trust) who started pulling the chariot of Rato Machchhindranath in Pulchowk defying prohibitory orders on Thursday.
The irate locals pelted stones at the police injuring some of the police personnel. The situation is tense and a large number of police personnel are in the street. The locals have been dispersed and the police have encircled the chariot.
The chariot that was stranded at Pulchowk for a long time due to the COVID-19 pandemic has been pulled Thursday by the restless locals who feel it should be taken to Bungmati before the extra lunar month (Malamas), which is considered inauspicious for religious and cultural rituals, starts.
The extra lunar month of Malamas, which occurs every third year, starts from September 18 this year.
The police tried to intervene in the beginning but could not stop the locals who thronged in their hundreds. But the police later started using water cannon to disperse the locals, some of whom are without face masks. They also fired tear gas shells when the locals started pelting stones.
Mayor of Lalitpur Metropolitan City Chiri Babu Maharjan expressed concerns at the large gathering when the metropolitan city is carrying out contact tracing during the prohibitory orders, and said the Jyapu Samaj should take a call on pulling the chariot. "The metropolis only provides logistic support. It does not have authority to decide when to pull the chariot, or whether to pull it or not," Maharjan told Setopati. "The Jyapu Samaj will convene an emergency meeting. The metropolis will support the decision it takes."
Locals have started pulling the chariot with the Malamas just two weeks away.
"The chariot has to be taken to Bungmati before the Malamas starts. The people have come and started to pull the chariot as the Guthi Sansthan did not make arrangements for pulling the chariot and the deadline is approaching," leader in building the chariot Dil Kumar Bahari told Setopati.
Building of the chariot should have started on April 9 but did not due to the lockdown. It started only on June 24. Pulling of the chariot, as per the delayed schedule, should have started on August 17 but it was stopped on instruction of the Guthi Sansthan.
Bahari said the locals have started to pull the chariot now as it should reach Bungmati before the Dashain, which starts immediately after end of the Malamas this year, and it cannot be pulled during the extra lunar month.