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Pradeep Pattanayak

Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Bijoy Mohapatra on Monday lashed out at the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) and Puri district administration, demanding stringent action against them in connection with vandalism of around 80 ovens (chulhas) in the kitchen (Rosa Ghara) of Srimandir. 

Mohapatra said such an incident had never happened in the history. “It hurt the sentiment of devotees deeply. Without showing any leniency or shielding any one, the State government should take immediate steps to punish those who are involved in the act. Besides the miscreants, the temple and district administrations are also equally responsible,” said Mohapatra. 

Hitting out at the State government, Mohapatra said the government hasn’t implemented the Supreme Court’s directions regarding the security of the Srimandir. 

“The Apex Court had on November 4, 2019, directed the State government to appoint a permanent temple administrator, carry out such developmental works around the temple that are free from objections and get the temple fund audited by CAG. But, the latter hasn’t implemented the directions,” alleged Mohapatra. 

Expressing his concern over the ongoing Srimandir Heritage Corridor project (Parikrama Prakalp) row, Mohapatra said it was quite astonishing that the ASI and NMA are maintaining stoic silence even though the issue has been raised in the Parliament. The ASI should have sent an expert team by now. 

“Since the trenches and holes were dug up illegally, they are now being filled up with sand,” Mohapatra said, adding “It is illegal to appoint the district Collector as the Chief Administrator of the temple. An RDC rank officer should instead be appointed. Similarly, there should be an SP rank officer to look after the security of the temple.”

Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, in a series of tweets (Odia), expressed his deep concern. He said the news of ovens being vandalised hurt him deeply. “Srimandir and Mahaprasad are closely associated. And Lord Jagannath is the centre of belief of not only the people of Odisha but also the entire Hindu populace in the world. The government and administration should take the incident seriously and take steps to make it sure that there should be no repeat of such incidents in future,” Pradhan wrote. 

Taking to his Twitter handle, the Saffron party’s National Vice President Baijayant Jay Panda also demanded action against the miscreants. In an Odia tweet, he said, “The miscreants who vandalised the ovens in the Srimandir’s Rosa Ghara will never be forgiven by Odias but that does not mean that those who are looking into the security of the temple sit on their hands. That they are not taking any steps in this regard puts a big question mark on the security of the temple.” 

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