Missing Ratna Bhandar key: Puri King blames Srimandir Administration

Puri: Clearing the air on questions being raised about his role in the Ratna Bhandar key controversy, Puri Gajapati Dibyasingha Deb today said he fails to understand why he was made responsible for the actions/ inactions of the temple administration.

In an exclusive email to OTV, the Gajapati said that the Odisha government took over management of the Srimandir from his father and then King Birakishore Deb after the implementation of the Sri Jagannath Temple Act in 1960 and since then, the State government has been the supreme authority for ensuring safety of Ratna Bhandar and safe custody of its keys.

Puri Gajapati Dibyasingha Deb

The Gajapati has not been entrusted with any keys except the custody of one out of the three keys of outer Ratna Bhandar. As chairman of Srimandir Managing Committee, the Gajapati only presides over the meetings of the administration and signs the proceedings. To encapsulate, his role and responsibilities are the same as other ordinary members, the exclusive mail read.

“After 1960, at no point of time the Gajapati has been entrusted with the keys of inner Ratna Bhandar nor has been involved in any way with the handling of the said keys. The few times that the inner Ratna Bhandar has been opened after 1960, it has been the Srimandir Administrator (as the Chief Executive Officer of Srimandir) and the Puri Collector (who prior to 2004 was also the Vice-Chairman of Srimandir managing Committee) who have been involved with the handling and custody of the keys of the inner Ratna Bhandar,” the Gajapati stated.

“Since 1960, the Gajapati has been entrusted with the custody of one out of the three keys of outer Ratna Bhandar and his authorised representative attends every opening of outer Ratna Bhandar with the said key, as and when required by the Srimandir Administration. I may add here that the outer Ratna Bhandar cannot be opened unless all the three custodians of the keys- representative of the Gajapati, Srimandir Administrator and Srimadir Bhandar-mekapa- are present with the keys in their respective custody,” Dibyasingha clarified.

Earlier, senior servitor of the Srimandir, Ramakrushna Dasmohapatra had blamed the King for not taking any proactive measures on the issue stating that the Gajapati is supreme and the first servitor of the temple and he should be having one of the keys of Ratna Bhandar. Hence, he should clarify whether he has the keys or not, Dasmohapatra had said.