Himansu Shekhar Rout

Online fraudsters are on the prowl to exploit the sentiments of devotees of Lord Jagannath. Reports have come to the fore that devotees are being cheated on e-commerce platforms in the name of the 'Patitapaban Bana' (Puri temple flag). 

One such incident was reported from Puri. A resident of the pilgrim city allegedly became a victim of one such online fraud. Bhagwan Mohapatra of Baseli Sahi in Puri ordered a Srimandir Patitapaban Bana (flag) on the e-commerce portal Amazon after going through advertisements on social media posts. 

As per reports, certain social media posts claimed that the 'Patitapaban Banas' are sold online. Just to examine the reality and trustworthiness of the post, Mohapatra placed an order for a flag on March 15. The price of the flag was shown as Rs 999. After getting a discount, he paid Rs 889 for the same and the order was delivered to him on March 19.

However, on stripping open the packet, he was shocked to find that it was not a Patitapaban Bana but a flag of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Mohapatra immediately rushed to the office of the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) along with the delivered package. He showed the order to lawyers and Chunara servitors, who were shocked to see that fraudsters were deceiving customers in the name of selling Patitapaban Bana. Selling of Patitapaban bana is illegal, informed sources. 

Mohapatra said, "When I came to know that Patitapaban Bana is being sold online, I ordered one to see if it was true. I even asked the seller who allowed the sale of such flags. The seller retorted and asked who am I to raise questions. The seller claimed to be manufacturing the Patitapaban Bana. Then, I ordered the flag. The flag was opened in public. It was found that the flag was that of the BJP.”

He said that he would move the consumers' court over the fraud. 

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Reacting to the incident, Srimandir servitor, Dr Sarat Mohanty said, "We have no objection to items – from garments to groceries -- being sold on e-commerce platforms like Amazon. Even we don’t oppose it if it sells Bana. But if it sells those items as ‘Patitapaban Bana’ or uses Lord Jagannath's name, we condemn it. Making a flag and naming it Patitapaban Bana is highly condemnable.It is illegal.”

No comments were received from the seller or the e-commerce platform.

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