Mrunal Manmay Dash

A delegation of the Odisha unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday met Puri King Gajapati Dibyasingha Deb to discuss the inordinate delay on part of Odisha government to reopen the Srimandir’s Ratna Bhandar, the treasure trove of Lord Jagannath.

The BJP team included former State president Samir Mohanty, Leader of Opposition (LoP) Jayanarayan Mishra and Pitambar Acharya among others.

The BJP wanted the State government and the SJTA to clear the air on the safety of the Ratna Bhandar and the ornaments stored in it. And as the Puri King is the President of the Temple Managing Committee, the saffron party submitted a memorandum urging him to press the State government to take immediate steps to reopen it.

Speaking about the meeting with the King, Mohanty said, "He (The King) has been in support of reopening of Ratna Bhandar. He has said this time and again that the inventory of the Bhandar should be made.Millions of Jagannath devotee have been asking the same question, why does not the Odisha governmnet reopen the Bhandar."

It is pertinent to mention here that the Ratna Bhandar has been a contentious issue for both the State government and the Opposition for quite a few years.

As the BJP and Congress have intensified their demand to reopen the Ratna Bhandar and take stock of the inventory, the matter has now reached the Orissa High Court now.

The Orissa High Court recently directed the government to constitute a high-level committee, if it is recommended by the Shree Jagannath Temple Managing Committee (SJTMC), for supervising the inventory of the valuables kept in the Ratna Bhandar.

The court also directed the government to form the committee within a period of 60 days from the date when the SJTMC will approach them.

The court came up with such order while hearing a petition filed by BJP’s Samir Mohanty.

BJP leader, Pitambar Acharya said, "The High Court has clearly said that the Odisha government should reopen the Ratna Bhandar and make an inventory of the jewellery before two months from the day when the Srimandir Committee makes formal request to the government for the same. 

Following the High Court order, Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) chief, Ranjan Das on Saturday said that the Ratna Bhandar Lord Jagannath temple in Puri is safe and no one should worry about it.However, it has been almost 75 days the committee had decided and sent its recommendetaion to the government to reopen the Bhandar. But the government is yet to take any steps in this regard. If the government does not reopen soon, we will have to knock on the Court's door again."  

When asked about the status of the special committee that the court has ordered, SJTA chief Das said the matter would be discussed in the Shree Jagannath Temple Managing Committee meeting and the High Court would duly apprised in this regard.

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