ASI opens probe into animal slaughter at Buddhist site

Kendrapara:  Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has instituted a probe into the alleged slaughter of animals within the precincts of the protected Buddhist site of Udaygiri during the recent Rajo festival.

ASI sources today said that the probe had been ordered on the basis of claims by locals that about a dozen goats were slaughtered during Rajo at the Mahakal Hindu shrine located within the protected complex.

"The irony is that the sacrifice took place at the famous Buddhist site. Lord Buddha was an apostle of non-violence and stood strongly against animal killing.

"It's an act of negligence. As the protected area is within the control of ASI, authorities should have stopped it.

Besides the ritual itself is unlawful," observed Lok Sabha MP Mohan Jena.

Shushant Kumar Kar, ASI Assistant Superintendent, said that "the matter is being looked into. No activity of this nature is permissible within any ASI-protected site".

Locals, however, sought to differ.

"There is nothing wrong with the sacrifice ritual. The temple was taken over by ASI after the Buddhist site was discovered at Udaygiri. We are being allowed to offer daily puja to the Mahakal tantric deity. Animals were slaughtered yesterday," said Arun Kumar Sahu, a local.

ASI discovered Udaygiri's Buddhist treasures in the early sixties. The complex is composed of stupas and monasteries.

Locals said that the sacrifice ritual, which was resumed this year, has been practised for long although it was discontinued in recent years following ASI's intervention.