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Sharmili Mallick

Puri: A day after Supreme Court-appointed Amicus Curiae Ranjit Kumar gave a clean chit to the Odisha government’s demolition drive on structures around Puri Srimandir, a political slugfest has erupted between the Opposition parties on one side and the ruling-BJD on the other.

The eviction drive in Puri, which was temporarily stopped by the district administration after stiff opposition from the sadhus of different mutts situated close to the Srimandir, resumed today morning amid tight security.

The demolition drive began with the razing of 14th century Bada Akhada Mutt in presence of 12 platoons of police force and 8 district magistrates. As many 37 shops functioning from the building of the mutt, Fire Services office, RI office have also been demolished today, sources said adding that it will take around 2 more days for complete demolition of the structure.

However, some portions of the mutt including ‘gaadisthali’ (seat of religious head), kitchen and Hanuman temple will not be razed, said sources.

On the other hand, after Amicus Curiae’s clean chit to the eviction drive in the pilgrim city, the Opposition parties have blamed the State government for not allowing the stakeholders to meet and apprise their concerns before the senior lawyer.

“They might be Commission or Judge but they are not the right people. The State government intentionally showcased the cleaner and the beautiful side of Puri to the Amicus Curiae but what about the destruction and loss that are being wreaked on the heritage structures in the pilgrim city,” said Congress MLA Suresh Routray.

Senior Odisha BJP General Secretary Prithviraj Harichandan also toed the line with Suresh Routray and sought an explanation from Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik regarding hasty implementation of the eviction drive.

However, BJD leader Subash Chouhan hit back at the Opposition for the criticism and said the latter is uselessly raking up the issue for political benefits.

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