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Vikash Sharma

Cuttack: A public interest litigation (PIL) has been filed in Orissa High Court seeking direction for immediate opening of Puri Shree Jagannath Temple and other shrines across Odisha which are now out of bounds for devotees in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A devotee from Puri, Trilochan Rath has filed the PIL urging the court to allow devotees into the temple.

“Other States in the country have allowed temples to reopen and Centre has empowered State governments to take decision on the issue. We have filed a PIL seeking orders for reopening of Puri Srimandir and other temples in Odisha,” said petitioner’s advocate, Akshay Pandey.

Pandey further stated that the petitioner has prayed that as Odisha government has allowed reopening of daily markets, commercial centres and even liquor shops, there should not be any issues in reopening of temples.

“Centre, Odisha government, Chief Secretary, Endowment Commission, Law Department and Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) have been made respondents in the case,” Pandey added.

A similar petition has been filed by priests of Kakatpur ‘Maa Mangala’ temple. Apart from reopening of the shrines, the petitioners have urged the court to direct Odisha government to provide financial assistance to servitors.

“Odisha government had recently paid Rs 5,000 each to servitors of Puri Srimandir in three instalments. Kakatpur Maa Mangala temple is an ancient Shakti Pitha and there are over 250 servitors. They have prayed for financial assistance of Rs 15,000 annually till the temple is reopened,” Pandey added.

On the other hand, Odisha Law Minister Pratap Jena said, "Odisha government will take a decision on reopening of temples soon."

(Edited By Bikram Keshari Jena)

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