Administrative probe ordered into attack on Puri priests

Bhubaneswar: Dispute between agitating priests of Sri Jagannth Temple and district administration of Puri was resolved on Saturday with state government announcing an administrative inquiry into the alleged police excess on a section of "sevayats" on July 4.

The additional district magistrate of Puri would head the probe committee having two representatives from among priests, Revenue Divisional Commissioner P K Mohapatra said.

The committee was scheduled to submit its report by August 31.

The 10 priests who were allegedly beaten up by police on July 4, a day after the Rath yatra, had staged a symbolic hunger strike in front of Sri Gundicha Temple at Puri demanding transfer of some senior government officials.

Holding senior officials responsible for the trouble, the priests protested outside the temple and even stopped rituals. As a result Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra were stranded on the chariots for a day before being taken into Sri Gundicha Temple on July 5.

"We had immediately suspended four policemen and the state government expressed regret over the matter," Puri collector Fakir C Satpathy said.

The dispute between the priests and the district administration was, however, resolved at a meeting this evening chaired by Law secretary Debabrata Das.

Besides accepting priests` demand for administrative inquiry into the July 4 police excess on priests and devotees, the government also assured them that others involved in the incident would also be punished before August 31.

The government assured the priests that recommendation of the inquiry panel would be implemented within 15 days.