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Pradeep Singh

Odisha Congress on Tuesday alleged that the desecration of the holy kitchen of Puri Srimandir was government-sponsored to divert the attention of people after the ruling BJD faced backlash over 'illegal' construction under the Puri Heritage Corridor project.

"The vandalism of Srimandir kitchen is a government-sponsored act to divert people's attention from the main issue. The government was criticised across the State, including in the Parliament, because of the digging works near the shrine and hence, the Chulhas were vandalised," alleged Congress spokesperson, Nishikant Mishra.

He further alleged, "Had the State Chief Secretary and the Odisha Police DG taken adequate measures towards the security of the temple, no such vandalism would have taken place in the Srimandir. "We demand stern action against all those involved in the vandalism, including the officials because of whose carelessness such an incident took place," added Mishra.

Speaking on the matter, BJD MP Munna Khan said that the Chief Secretary and the DGP visited Puri on Monday and took stock of the situation. "The incident has hurt all and we strongly condemn it. The culprits will be punished as per the law," said the Parliamentarian.

On the other hand, four Jagannath Temple Police (JTP) personnel have been issued show-cause notices to immediately reply under what circumstances the serious breach of security occurred at the shrine.

As per the Srimandir's Record of Rights, there are around 240 registered ovens in the kitchen of the temple, including 40 chulhas used by the administration for preparing the 'Mahaprasad'. Around 80 chulhas inside the temple were found vandalised on Sunday.

Vandalism at the holy kitchen is said to be a first-of-its-kind incident in the 12th-century shrine. The incident has led to a furore across the State and caused disappointment to crores of Jagannath devotees across the world.

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