Pradeep Pattanayak

Demanding the reopening of all four gates of the Srimandir in Puri for the devotees, the activists of Puri District Youth Congress staged a demonstration at the southern gate of the temple on Tuesday. 

A minor scuffle between the policemen deployed at the southeren gate and the demonstrators was witnessed when the latter tried to enter the shrine forcefully through the southern gate. Justifying their demand, the agitating activists said that since all the devotees are currently entering the shrine through the Lion’s gate, they are experiencing a lot of hardship. They have to wait for long hours in queues, they alleged. 

“The administration is not allowing devotees into the temple through all the four gates for last two years. Nor are they giving any concrete information regarding when the Srimandir Parikrama Project work will get over and when the gates will be opened for devotees. So we staged a peaceful demonstration today demanding the opening of all four gates. If the administration doesn’t take early steps in this regard, the agitation will be intensified,” warned Sujit Mohapatra, a senior Congress leader. 

When contacted, Puri Additional SP said “As the project work is underway, the southern and northern gates are closed for the devotees. Once the project is over, and if they (the Congress workers) place their demands at the proper forum, their demands would be considered.”

Notably, prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, devotees were allowed to enter the 12th-century shrine from all four gates. During the pandemic, the three doors of the temple were shut for the devotees. But even long after the pandemic, devotees were allowed to the shrine through the Lion’s Gate only, resulting in a huge rush at the gate. 

There has been a growing demand for opening the other three gates, at least the western gate. Noted sand artist Sudarshan Patnaik also raised the demand for the opening of the western gate for local people. 

However, bowing to the pressure from all quarters, the western gate of the temple was opened for the Puri residents only on July 24.

Presently, they are entering the shrine through this gate.

But the district administration has not taken any decision to open the remaining two gates, citing the ongoing Srimandir Heritage Corridor Project construction work.

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