Himansu Shekhar Rout

Thieves have allegedly turned their focus on temples in Odisha. In a single day, two temples were burgled and over Rs 27 lakh cash was looted from their hundis (donation boxes). 

As per reports, thieves decamped with more than Rs 20 lakh cash and valuable jewelleries by breaking open the hundi of the newly-built Ram Mandir on the Girigobardhan hill at Fatehgarh of Nayagarh on Tuesday night.

Besides, they broke into the office of the temple’s trust board and took away valuables including ‘patta bastra (clothes)’, gold and silver ornaments of the deities. The theft came to the fore this morning when the temple priest found everything in the temple in disarray.   

The temple committee filed a police complaint in this regard and claimed that cash and ornaments over Rs 25 lakh were stolen from the temple. 

Saroj Mohapatra, a servitor of the temple said, "Cash donated by devotees was inside the donation boxes. Besides, gold and silver ornaments were inside an iron almirah.”   

Speaking to the media, Khandapada SDPO Bimal Barik said, “Miscreants broke the temple gates and looted lakhs of rupees and valuable ornaments. An investigation is underway and we are trying to solve the case as soon as possible.”

In a separate incident, burglars looted the famous Shaivite shrine Panchalingeswar in Balasore. The thieves broke open the donation box by using gas cutters and decamped with cash worth lakhs. Police have started an investigation after a member of the Panchalingeswar Temple Trust Board filed a complaint in this regard this morning.  

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Sisir Kumar Mishra, a member of Panchalingeswar Temple Trust Board said, "A theft had taken place in the temple in 2022. The security of the temple was strengthened with six locks, but the thieves managed to cut open the donation box with gas cutters. The donation box was not opened for the last four months. Approximately Rs 2 lakh cash was looted.”

(Report by Rakesh Padhi & Biswambar Das)