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Pradeep Pattanayak

The Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) has decided to install as many as 135 CCTV cameras at strategic locations in order to strengthen the present surveillance system at Srimandir in Puri. 

Informing about the decision, Puri district Collector Samarth Verma on Thursday said that CCTV cameras would also be installed at four different locations to keep a vigil on the roshaghara (kitchen). These CCTV cameras will have two months storage capacity, he added. 

The Collector informed this after the meeting held at the SJTA office involving Puri SP, SJTA administrators of safety, NITI and development and members of Jagannath Temple Management Committee. 

“Since the shortage of Jagannath Temple Police (JTP) personnel had been affecting ‘sodha’ ritual, from tonight onwards, JTP personnel and policemen will jointly carry out the ritual,” informed Verma. 

‘Sodha’ is one of the last rituals performed at Srimandir. This ritual ensures none except the servitors should stay inside the temple premises after Badasimhar and closing of the sanctum sanctorum doors. Till yesterday night, the ritual had been performed by JTP personnel only. 

Regarding action against the JTP personnel who were on duty on the night when the chulhas of the temple kitchen were vandalised, Collector Verma said the JTP had been served a show-cause notice and the reply has been received. Action would be taken after proper verification.

In what seems to be the temple administration is closing the stable door after the horse has bolted, strict checking could be seen at Srimandir gate on Thursday. 

However, the statements of Jagan Mohapatra, who vandalised earthen ovens in the roshaghara, have given rise to several questions regarding the laxity in the security arrangements of the temple.

Jagan said as he proceeded towards the roshaghara there was none to stop him. 

According to servitors, a total of 120 CCTV cameras are required to be installed to keep a better surveillance on the temple. Of the present numbers, only 11 are in working condition, they alleged. Some even questioned the role of the administrator (Safety), who is an Additional SP rank officer.  

“Jagan has literally opened our eyes. An administrator (security) post was created in 2004 and since then an officer has been serving in that capacity. But we are yet to understand what he is doing,” said Madhab Mohapatra, a member of Jagannath Temple Management Committee. 

Narayan Mahasuar of Suar Mahasuar Nijog said, “The first gate of the roshaghara is always left unlocked. It is also unguarded. So, JTP or policemen should be deployed at the roshaghara.”

It is now to be seen whether the administration sits on its hands after the arrest of Jagan or takes action against those who are responsible for the unprecedented turn of events that occurred at Srimandir on April 2 night.   

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