Demand for opening Srimandir’s Ratna Bhandar gains momentum

Bhubaneswar/Puri:  With mystery still shrouding the discovery of duplicate key of Puri Srimandir’s Ratna Bhandar, Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) chief Niranjan Patnaik on Saturday demanded for an audit of the Lord’s treasure trove.

In a tweet, OPCC chief wrote, “Mr. Naveen Patnaik, please understand that the recent series of events have left a deep sense of suspicion in the minds of us Odias. We are concerned about the safety of Lord Jagannath’s Ratna Bhandar. We request you to conduct an audit & reassure that our Lord’s wealth is safe.”

Several servitor groups including Daitapati Nijog and former member of the temple managing committee also raised doubts whether the Ratna Bhandar could be opened with the help of the duplicate key that was recovered from district record room in a sealed envelope couple of days back.

A lot of servitors expressed surprise over the claims of discovery and presence of a duplicate key of Puri Srimandir’s Ratna Bhandar. They are also demanding that the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) should clarify on who had kept the duplicate key in the record room.

Mekapa servitors, who are in charge of the outer chamber of the Ratna Bhandar, have also raised doubts over the authenticity of the key that was recently found.

“We hope that the newly appointed SJTA chief administrator will look into the key controversy. We demand the Ratna Bhandar should be opened with the duplicate key and details of the jewellery made public so that devotees will be sure that the jewellery of Lord Jagannath is safe,” said, assistant secretary of Daitapati Nijog, Binayak Das Mohapatra.

Echoing similar demands, former managing committee member Manoranjan Singhari said, “The Ratna Bhandar should be opened as devotees raising doubts over presence of precious stones. If the lock of inner chamber of Ratna Bhandar will be opened with the duplicate key recently found then it can be considered as the original one.”

“The Ratna Bhandar lock should be broken if the duplicate key does not work,” demanded Narayan Mekapa, servitor of Bhandar Mekapa.

As per reports, the inner chamber of the Ratna Bhandar was opened in 1978 when Biswa Bhusan Harichandan was the Law Minister.

The senior BJP leader, Biswabhusan Harichandan demanded that the treasure trove should be opened immediately and the list of jewellery should be matched with the inventory prepared in 1978.

“Opening the Ratna Bhandar and preparing a fresh inventory should be the top priority of the State government,” said Harichandan.

Puri Collector Arvind Agarwal, on June 14, had stated that he was ready to face any probe as everything has been recorded on pen and paper following a controversy over the discovery of a duplicate key from the record room.

According to reports, the inventory prepared in 1978 has recorded that 31 varieties of jewellery are present in the outer chamber of the Ratna Bhandar.

Thirty four gold crowns, ‘Ramanandi Chita’, ‘Markatkanthi’, ‘Markat Chuni’, 124 types of Kalinga diamond, 234 ‘Manikya Chuni’, 26 ‘Baidurjya’, 123 bhari gold necklace, 15 bhari gold ‘magar munha khadu’, 37 bhari ‘Padma Pakhuda’ and precious stones are present in the inner chamber of Ratna Bhandar, the report added.