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Assault on American: State govt orders probe

Bhubaneswar: The state government ordered an investigation into the alleged assault of an American national by private security personnel of Lord Jagannth`s chariot on Friday. "We have received the complaint by the American national and his Odia wife. The government has asked the police to inquire into the matter," said Revenue Divisional Commissioner (central division), Arabinda Padhi, who is also the chief administrator of Sri Jagannath Temple Administration.

Padhi said Noel Magee Hayden (32), the American, was medically examined as part of the inquiry. Hayden was allegedly beaten up by some members of the private security guards of the Jagannath Temple.

The incident occurred after the chariots of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra reached Gundicha temple on Friday. With the American and his Odia wife Silpi protesting against denial of their darshan atop the chariot, a debate goes on over the right of converted Hindus and foreigners during the Rath Yatra.

Claiming that he was a converted Hindu, Hayden said he was forcibly stopped from climbing the chariot and beaten up by the guards. "As the Sri Jagannath temple is off limits to non-Hindus, foreign pilgrims, mostly converted-Hindus like me, the Rath Yatra period is an opportunity for us to touch the Lord," California-based Hayden said.

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