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Suryakant Jena

Bhubaneswar: At a time when mystery still shrouds the disappearance of Puri Srimandir's Ratna Bhandar keys, incoherent data on the exact amount of gold collection in the Hundi (donation box) of the temple has now sparked concerns.

Mismatch between the figures produced by the Law Minister in the Assembly and the RTI reply sought from non-other than the Puri Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) over the exact amount of gold collected through the Hundi of the 12th century shrine has now sparked a new controversy.

Law Minister Pratap Jena in a statement to the Assembly on September 6 said that in the last 35 years, from 1983 to 2018, the Hundi of Lord Jagannath received gold weighing 16.015 kg out of which 14.560 kg has been deposited in the SBI locker. However, an RTI reply sought from the SJTA in February earlier this year had mentioned that the total amount gold collected from the Hundi stood at 18.261 kg.

The BJP blamed the ruling-BJD saying that its apprehension regarding misappropriation of gold ornaments of the holy Trinity has proved true.

"Lord Jagannath is no one’s (Kotha Samapati) inherited property. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik who is playing cat and mouse with the property of Lord Jagannath and the faith and belief of 4 crore people of Odisha will be held responsible," said BJP spokesperson, Pitambar Acharya.

Leader of Opposition, Narasingha Mishra said “I don’t think that an inventory has been carried out yet to ascertain the exact amount of gold. “Anyone who is stating such sensitive information should be cautious enough,” Mishra said.

BJD leader and Revenue Minister Maheswar Mohanty played safe and said that he would comment after going through the exact details of both the reports.

While devotees have blamed the government’s lackadaisical attitude, the servitors of the temple have warned of repercussions if they are accused.

“Devotees would naturally be concerned if they don’t get exact information on the whereabouts of their donations. So it is the prime responsibility of the government. They should accept if the figures they mentioned were wrong,” a devotee said.

Senior servitor Binayak Das Mohapatra said the minister should clarify the exact figure of donated gold.

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