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Sharmili Mallick

Kandhamal: The Kandhamal Police on Sunday arrested a former worker of Gurukul Sanskrit Kanya ashram at Jalespata in the district for allegedly making threatening phone calls to the ashram's chief Swami Jivanmuktananda Puri, who is also the successor of spiritual leader late Swami Lakshmanananda Saraswati.

The accused identified as Mahadev Maharaj was arrested by the Kandhamal police from Chatikana under Bissamcuttack police limits in Rayagada district. He was working at the ashram in 2019, informed Kandhamal SP Vinit Agarwal.

Mahadev Maharaj is a resident of Rangadhipa village under Town Police limits in Sundergarh district. He was working at Chakapada Ashram in 2019 but after six months, he had a fight with Swami Jivanmuktananda Puri following which he was sent to Jalespata Ashram. At Jalespata too, he picked up fight with the ashram chief due to which he was asked to leave the work, said reports.

The threat calls are the fallout of the earlier enmity between Mahadev and Swami Puri, added reports.

Swami Jivanmuktananda Puri had earlier lodged a formal complaint at Timudibandha Police Station, about 125 km from the district headquarters, Phulbani town, seeking security after receiving the threat calls.

The first call came on Saturday at around 5.30 pm in which the anonymous caller claimed himself to be affiliated to a Naxal organisation and threatened to kill him and blow up the ashram. Another call with similar threats came today at around 9 am.

Following the complaint, police tightened the security at the ashram by deploying armed forces. A bomb squad was also engaged in checking for any explosives inside and outside the ashram.

A seven-member team of the State BJP unit including two MLAs, Mukesh Mahalinga and Kusum Tete rushed Jalespata Ashram on Sunday and met Swami Jivanmuktananda Puri. They also spoke to the Kandhamal SP Vinit Agarwal regarding the security arrangements at the ashram.

The members of Odisha unit of Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) had earlier raised serious concerns over the repeated threat calls.

(Edited By Pradeep Singh)

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