OTV Impact: CM orders judicial probe into missing Ratna Bhandar keys

Bhubaneswar: Following OTV’s telecast on the mystery surrounding the missing Ratna Bhandar keys of Puri Srimandir, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today ordered a judicial inquiry into the whole matter.

A retired judge of the Orissa High court will conduct the inquiry and submit report within three months, the Chief Minister’s Office said in a media release.

The inquiry commission will probe how and under what circumstances keys of the Ratna Bhandar went missing.

Pratap Jena

Law Minister Pratap Jena said, “Truth will come out after getting reports of the judicial inquiry. Further course of action will be decided thereafter.”

Reacting to the PCC chief Niranjan Patnaik’s remarks, Jena said he should have faith on the judiciary system.

“Announcement for the judicial probe is Naveen Patnaik’s tactics to divert public attention. There has been no clear mandate for the inquiry commission. In past 18 years, several commissions were set up, what has been the result?” asked the PCC chief following the Chief Minister Office’s announcement on the issue.

BJP also decried the Chief Minister’s judicial probe announcement on the matter. The party’s vice president Samir Mohanty said the CM is trying to distract attention. “Why he had been silent since April 4? The order for the inquiry is an eye wash only,” Mohanty said in a presser.

samir mohanty

He further said the missing of the Ratna Bhandar keys is a criminal case. “Those who has stolen from the treasure trove of Lord Jagnnath should be lodged in jail,” the BJP leader said.

Senior servitor Binayak Das Mohapatra also slammed the decision and said, “There is no hope of an outcome from the judicial inquiry. The State government should first take disciplinary action against the person who was in-charge of the key.”

“It seems that Opposition parties have predetermined to oppose whatever the State government decides,” said BJD Spokesperson, Arun Sahoo.

OTV had telecast  a report  on minutes of the temple management committee meeting held soon after the inspection of Ratna Bhandar (the treasure trove of Lord Jagannath) on April 4. The report revealed that the keys handed over to the inspection team by temple administration for opening the inner chamber did not belong to the locks.

The inspection committee and Puri King Gajapati Dibyasingh Deb present at the meeting, expressed surprise over the missing key, the minutes revealed.

During discussions on whereabouts of the keys, Puri Collector Arvind Agarwal revealed that no records of transactions pertaining to Ratna Bhandar keys were found in any of the registers maintained in the district treasury since 1970.

Yesterday members of the Sri Jagannath Sena and the Sachetana Nagrika Manch held placards and raised slogans against the district administration and the Law Minister alleging that missing of the Ratna Bhandar keys incident has hurt the sentiments of devotees.

Besides, Puri Shankaracharya Swami Nischalananda Saraswati expressed displeasure over the issue and demanded a detailed probe.

The issue had also kicked up a political storm with both the Congress and BJP came heavily on the government.

OPCC chief Niranjan Patnaik had met Puri Shankaracharya and sought his intervention into the matter.

Puri Youth Congress had also lodged a FIR at Singhadwar Police Station alleging that the persons who were in-charge of the safe-keeping of the keys since 1978 should be held responsible for the missing of the keys.