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Saswat Singhdeo

Bhubaneswar: Expressing concerns about the safety of Lord Jagannath’s Ratna Bhandar inside Puri Srimandir and failure of the administration to trace keys of the inner chamber, Leader of Opposition (LoP) Pradipta Kumar Naik urged the Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to open the treasure trove and conduct an audit of the same to match it with the inventory prepared in 1978.

In a letter, Naik has requested the CM to make a proper audit of the ornaments of Lord Jagannath citing high possibility of stealing of jewelleries and precious ornaments. “I request you to conduct an audit immediately and reassure that our Lord’s wealth is safe. The Ratna Bhandar should be opened immediately and the list of jewelleries should be matched with the inventory prepared in 1978,” said Naik in the letter.

Naik has mentioned that the Ratna Bhandar had more than 120 kg of gold and 221 kg silver 40 years back when the last inventory of the valuables within the storehouse was made. He also said that appointment of the judicial commission was worthless as nothing significant happened even after submission of the final report.

In response, State Law Minister Pratap Jena said, "We haven't received any letter from the LoP yet. Odisha government has already formed a probe commission to investigate Ratna Bhandar key fiasco. The Government is not leaving any stone unturned when it comes to ensuring the security of Puri Srimandir."

On the other hand, Congress MLA Suresh Routray said that Srimandir's Ratna Bhandar shouldn't be opened for audit as officials will loot all the ornaments in the treasure trove.

Notably, Odisha government had ordered for a judicial probe on June 7, 2018 following massive public outcry over the disappearance of the Ratna Bhandar key. The State Government had appointed Justice Raghubir Das, retired judge of Orissa High Court as the chairman of the ‘Commission of Inquiry.’

However, the entire issue again snowballed into a controversy after the then Puri Collector Aravind Agarwal, on June 13, claimed that a ‘duplicate key’ of the Ratna Bhandar was recovered from Puri district record room.

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