Ramakanta Biswas

The controversy surrounding Ratna Bhandar (inner treasure chamber) of Puri Shree Jagannath Temple reared its head again with a local outfit filing a CBI complaint alleging loot of precious jewellery and ornaments from the treasury.  

Shree Jagannath Sena’s national convenor and advocate Priyadarshan Pattnaik has submitted a written complaint with the SP of CBI, Odisha on Wednesday against the ‘culprits of Ratna Bhandar loot’. 

Pattnaik said he witnessed the loot of the precious items from Ratna Bhandar at around 1.30 am on the night of February 14, 2009. 

“I have seen the theft and loot of the Ratna Bhandar and can give proof at the time of investigation,” Patnaik wrote in the FIR. 

In his complaint, the Jagannath Sena convenor has also asked a series of questions as to why the treasury of the 12th century shrine is not being opened.   

He said as per law the inventory of Ratna Bhandar is to be made by the government in every three years which is mandatory. However, since 1984-85 it is not opened and since 1978 no inventory was made till today since 44 years.

“As per the order of the Orissa High Court, 17 members had gone to open Ratna Bhandar on April 4, 2018 but surprisingly they returned without opening it telling that the key was not found,” the complaint letter read.  

He also pointed out two contradict statements allegedly made by then Puri Collector Arvind Agarwal and State’s former law minister. He said the district Collector had told that the team saw from outside that Ratna Bhandar was in a dilapidated condition for which it was not opened while Law Minister told the assembly that Ratna Bhandar was opened and is safe.

Pattnaik further said a former Collector of Puri told had said no key of Ratna Bhandar was found at treasury office, Puri since 1960, but surprisingly the Ratna Bhandar was opened in 1969, 1972, 1974, 1974, 1985 by taking the key from the same treasury. 

He also mentioned about a former collector who reportedly told media that he found the duplicate key from the record room of Puri, but did not show it to anybody even not submitted the same before the Raghubar Das Commission which was formed to inquire into the missing keys of Ratna Bhadar. 

“We have submitted our complaint to the CBI. If the central agency will not look into it, we will move the Orissa High Court and if necessary will approach the Supreme Court,” Pattnaik said.