Vikash Sharma

The Puri police on Friday busted a fake RTPCR report racket which facilitated entry of devotees into the Jagannath temple with the arrest of 12 persons including the mastermind whose identity has not been revealed.

The fake Covid negative reports were used to illegally gain entry into the scared shrine at Puri which had reopened for devotees last month, police said.

Four devotees are among the 12 accused who have been arrested so far in connection with the racket. “Recently inputs were received that few devotees are trying to enter Shree Jagannath Temple by showing fake RTPCR reports. Stern legal action has been initiated by Police after due enquiry,” tweeted the Puri Police.

According to Police, so far three cases- two by Singhadwar police station and one by the Kumbharpada police station- has been registered in connection with the disclosure.

Following investigation, the Singhadwar police first arrested four persons including two devotees who hail from Madhya Pradesh (MP). The two other accused are residents of Puri who had helped the two devotees from MP to procure the fake RTPCR reports. Senior officials said that one more accused in the case is absconding.

In the second case, the Kumbharpada police arrested 3 accused including a devotee who was trying to enter the temple using fake RTPCR report. The accused devotee hails from Chattisgarh. The other two accused are Puri residents who had helped the Chhattisgarh visitor in obtaining the fake RTPCR report.

In the third case made out by the Singhadwar police, 5 accused including a devotee from Angul district have been arrested. Meanwhile, the Puri police said the names of the arrested accused have been kept secret as the investigation into the ‘sensitive’ case is in progress and any leak has the potential to alert the other accused who are presently being searched. Moreover, the analysis of the articles used to prepare the fake Covid negative reports are underway.

The police explained this and said in a tweet, “Several incriminating articles including computer have been seized and further seizure is in progress. Top priority is being given to such cases and stern legal action taken against all the accused persons involved. More arrests are likely. The names of all accused persons have been withheld considering sensitivity of the case. Puri Police appeals to all to not indulge in any malpractices when coming for darshan of Lord Jagannath.”