Assault on Puri Collector unacceptable: IAS body

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Bhubaneswar: The IAS officers’ Association, Odisha chapter on Wednesday condemned the physical assault on Puri Collector Aravinda Agarwal by Sri Jagannath temple servitors during Niladri Bije of deities in Puri on Sunday night.

Taking a strong note of the incident, the IAS body said it will convene an emergency meeting soon to take a decision on its future course of action.

“This is a very sad and unfortunate incident. We strongly condemn it. A Collector who is trying to do his job, and trying to enforce law and order, was misbehaved with. This is something which is not acceptable. I think the time has come to take strong action in such matter. We will have an emergency meeting soon and take it (the case) forward,” IAS officers’ Association secretary Vishal Dev said.

The official stated that this sort of cases have started surfacing recently and need to be checked with proper action against the culprits.

On the other hand, following Tuesday suspension of nine servitors and arrest of six for their alleged role in manhandling media persons on the same day, Garabadu Nijog, a section of servitors, has demanded a RDC level inquiry into the matter. The Nijog said the State government ‘must’ act soon in the incident.

“If at all an investigation is needed in this matter, it should be done by the Revenue Divisional Commissioner or anybody whom the State government thinks fit. The culprits should be punished any way deemed fit, but let the innocent be spared. Whosoever is involved in this case must be punished,” Rajat Pratihari, secretary of Garabadu Nijog and brother of suspended servitor Ipsit Pratihari, said.

He maintained that the recommendations of Puri Gajapati Maharaj Divya Singha Dev and Shankaracharya Swami Nischalananda Saraswati on the temple matters should be respected and obeyed by all.

Denouncing the incident, the Mahanayak Sevak of the Trinity said a public movement is necessary to stop these cases from happening again.

“What has happened is completely indecent. My experience tells me their (servitors’) behaviour can’t be changed. For a change in the system, a mass movement is required,” Mahanayak Sevak Ramachandra Badapanda said.

On Tuesday, the Sri Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) suspended nine servitors and arrested six for misbehaving with the collector, mishandling the Niladri Vije ritual and delaying pahandi. The arrested were remanded in judicial custody after their bail plea was rejected by the court.

The action followed after Agarwal came down heavily on the priests for their unruly behavior. He was vocal against the shrine administration for not taking stringent action against the defiant priests, who created unruly scenes during the ritual.

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