Not all servitors should be blamed for Niladri Bije fiasco: SJTA

Puri: As the anti-servitor mood showed signs of gaining ground after the unsavoury incident during the Niladri Bije of the deities yesterday that saw the Puri collector and media persons manhandled by a section of the servitors on the issue of climbing of a woman on the chariot, the Shri Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) today embarked on a damage control exercise saying it would be improper to blame all the servitors for this unfortunate incident.

Giving details to media persons here, SJTA chief administrator Suresh Chandra Mohapatra said the rituals for the Niladri Bije of the deities were going on smoothly last night.

“The incident took place during the pahandi of Lord Sudarshan when a woman was seen going up the ladder of the Taladhwaja chariot of Lord Balabhadra with his father who is a servitor. At this, the district administration and police officials present near the chariot detained the woman and her father while they were coming out after the darshan of the Lord. Soon, an altercation ensued between a section of servitors and the district administration. Defying the order of the administration, the servitors escorted the woman and her father to the chariot”, Mohapatra said.

He said barring this one servitor, all the remaining 2000 servitors had obeyed the restrictions imposed by the temple administration on taking their family members on to the chariots.

“The district administration and the police administration have already initiated the process to take action against the erring servitor for whom the pahandi was delayed for nearly one hour. Besides, the temple administration would examine the CCTV footage today and take action accordingly,” he pointed out.

Mohapatra said the servitors were used to take their family members, especially the minor girls, to the chariot for the darshan of the deities for several years. But the temple administration has stopped this practice as per the directive of the Puri Shankaracharya and the Orissa High Court. “While most of the servitors have adhered to the directive, there are one or two servitors who are trying to create disturbance by violating the order of the temple administration. As seen yesterday, no servitors had supported this erring servitor for whom such unsavoury incident had occurred,” he observed.

He further said the temple administration had given specific instructions to servitors not to take their family members to the chariots. Besides, the servitors having no rituals to perform on the chariots were also intimated not to climb the chariots.

“Since one servitor has violated the order the temple administration, it would not be proper to blame the entire servitor community for the incident,” Mohapatra pointed out.

Talking to media persons later in the day, Puri SP Sarthak Sarangi said as per the complaints lodged by the media persons, police has registered a case under section 307 and other sections of the IPC against the erring servitor who has been detained.

“Apart from this, police, through the CCTV footage, has identified 4-5 other servitors involved in the incident and they will be arrested very soon,” he informed.