Sharmili Mallick

Puri: The mass eviction drive taken up by the Odisha government and Puri administration to ensure safety and security of the 12th century shrine seems to be unfolding new twists and turns every day. The eviction of centuries-old Emar Mutt that began on Thursday could not resume today due to protest by the Chief (Mahanta) of the mutt, Rajgopal Ramanuj Das.

Opposing the demolition of Raghunandan Library inside the mutt premises, Das who was claimed to be on a ‘vow of silence’ refused to budge from the place of his meditation.

Though the Puri district administration arranged a 35-ft long and 10-ft wide container to shift him from the mutt, he denied leaving the spot.

However, it was later found that Das was never on a vow of silence. He clarified to OTV that he was disappointed with the demolition of Raghunandan library, which is why he had confined himself inside the mutt.

Speaking to OTV over phone, Das said, “The administration had discussed about the demolition of unused and dilapidated structures only inside the mutt premises. The mutt authorities had spent lakhs of rupees to renovate Raghunandan library and the structure was safe. Still it was demolished without our consent.”

Continuing its eviction drive, the Puri district administration had razed many unsafe store rooms inside the Raghunandan Library. Many shops in the mutt premises were also demolished as part of the mass eviction drive.

On the other hand, the administration has restricted movement inside the mutt while as many as 30 platoons of police forces have been deployed near Srimandir and mutt to maintain law and order situation.

Earlier on Thursday, underground chambers were found underneath the ancient Emar Mutt during the razing of the 12th-century monastery. The discovery of the secret underground chambers sparked curiosity among the local residents as hundreds of people gathered near the spot to witness the spectacle.

While it is stated that the chambers might have been used for storing purposes of the mutt, many onlookers believed that it could be holding hidden treasures.

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