Pradeep Pattanayak

With the Odisha government keeping mum on reopening of the four gates and the Ratna Bhandar of Srimandir in Puri, the Congress on Sunday announced that it is going to stage a state-wide ‘Sankirtan Satyagrah’ from November 9 to wake up the government from its deep slumber. 

The ‘Sankirtan Satyagrah’ protest will be staged at all the Jagannath temples in the state from 9 am to 12 pm. The grand old party invited all the Jagannath devotees to join the protest. 

“The holy month of Kartik has set in with Habisiyalis already thronging Puri. The difficulties they are going through for a darshan of the deities are not visible to the government. ‘Sankirtan Satyagrah’ will be staged at all the Jagannath temples in the state on November 9,” said OPCC chief Sarat Pattanayak. 

The party’s decision came after the state government didn’t take any steps to reopen the four gates and the Ratna Bhandar even though it took out a protest rally in Puri on October 16. 

Also read: Odisha BJP delegation meets Puri King over Srimandir Ratna Bhandar issue

At the same time, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) also reiterated its demand for the reopening of the Ratna Bhandar and the four gates of Srimandir for devotees. 

“It is incumbent upon Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to clear the doubts of Jagannath devotees if the Ratna Bhandar has any ornament or not. In the coming days, we will take several steps if the government keeps on dragging its feet on the issue,” said BJP spokesperson Dilip Mallick. 

Responding to the statements of the two opposition parties, SSEPD Minister Ashok Chandra Panda said, “The Chief Minister has taken up the Srimandir Parikrama Project, a big project in Puri, with an objective to ensure devotees a hassle-free darshan.”

While devotees are seeking to know why the gates are still closed even though the pandemic was over long ago, senior servitors have blamed the administrative officers for the plight of devotees during this holy month. 

“Some officers are apathetic to the problem and responsible for the present situation. The Habisialies should be allowed entry into the shrine through the four gates,” observed senior servitor Binayak Dasmohapatra. 

Expressing concern, a devotee said, “Earlier all the four gates would remain open. Now, devotees are entering through only one gate. As for the situations on Saturday and Sundays, it is better not to tell about it.”

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