Odishatv Bureau

Puri: After much furore and public outcry, the key of Puri Srimandir's Ratna Bhandar that was reportedly 'missing' was suddenly found on Wednesday.

Official sources said, duplicate key of the inner chamber of Ratna Bhandar was recovered from an envelope kept inside a locker of district record room.

Informing the development, Puri Collector Arvind Agarwal said that the key was found by one of the two teams that were formed to investigate and look for the keys, the ‘disappearance’ of which had sparked widespread resentment.

The team was searching for the key for the last five days and finally it stumbled upon a duplicate key from a sealed envelope kept inside the locker of district record room, he said.

"One of the teams found a sealed envelope superscribed "duplicate keys of Ratna Bhandar" written on it. We will apprise the development and submit a report to Shree Jagannath Temple Administration today," said Agarwal.

It is pertinent to mention here that the Gajapati Dibyasingha Deb had clarified that Odisha government took over management of the Srimandir from his father and then King Birakishore Deb after the implementation of the Sri Jagannath Temple Act in 1960 and since then, the State government has been the supreme authority for ensuring safety of Ratna Bhandar and safe custody of its keys. He had no where mentioned about existence of any duplicate key in his exclusive mail to OTV.

Daitapati Nijog Secretary Binayak Das Mohapatra said the entire issue has now snowballed into a suspicion theory as there should not be any question of duplicate keys. The government, High Court and the temple administration should immediately intervene to open the Ratna Bhandar as quickly as possible.

BJP Spokesperson Pitambar Acharya came down heavily on the district collector saying that he intentionally kept everyone in dark for nearly 2 months and seven days and now all of a sudden he comes up with duplicate keys. "The collector is acting at the behest of the most influential power sitting on the third floor," he said.

"Where was the key all this while? Why was the government silent on existence of duplicate keys?" Patnaik tweeted.

However, there is no information under what circumstances the original key of the Ratna Bhandar disappeared. OTV had first reported about the missing Ratna Bhandar key.

The incident had then led to severe resentment among different quarters while devotees had also expressed concern over the management of the Puri Srimandir especially the officials and others who had custody of the key.

Major political parities including BJP had targetted Odisha government over the issue. The leaders of the saffron party trained their guns on State government and even targetted Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik for his silence on the entire issue.

Following the incident, Odisha government had recently ordered for a judicial probe in connection with the incident.

Raghubir Das, a retired justice of Orissa High Court has been appointed as the chairman of the judicial commission to probe the circumstances leading to mysterious loss of the keys of Jagannath temple’s inner Ratna Bhandar (treasury).