Govt issues ToR for inquiry into Ratna Bhandar key controversy

Bhubaneswar: Amid massive public and political outrage, Odisha government on Thursday tried to throw the ball into the court of  the Inquiry Commission formed to deal with the Ratna Bhandar key controversy by issuing a notification and terms of reference (ToR) for the inquiry.

As per the notification, the commission will carry out an investigation to ascertain under what circumstances did the administration fail to find the key. It will also look into the role and responsibilities of different individuals and groups and find out the one responsible for the missing of inner chamber key of Ratna Bhandar.

Retired Orissa High Court judge Raghubir Das will head the commission and submit the report within three months. The commission will also ensure that such incidents do not recur.

“We will carry out a thorough investigation to ascertain under what circumstances the key was lost and the people responsible for it. We will try to complete the investigation within three months and if needed, request for more time,” said Das.

State Law Minister Pratap Jena today said that an inquiry commission has already been formed to investigate the missing key controversy and the truth will be revealed soon.

“The set of keys was traced from the District Record Room in a superscribed envelope that mentioned that the keys were placed there since 1985. However, the issue of ‘duplicate’ key has raised suspicion among people. Once the commission submits its report, everything will be clear,” said Jena.

In a scathing attack on the CM and his government, BJP spokesperson Pitambar Acharya today termed the mystery behind the missing Ratna Bhandar key as one of the major scams of the decade and held Naveen Patnaik, 3rd floor of secretariat, Puri Collector and the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) responsible for the incident.

“The CM should clarify under what circumstances was the Ratna Bhandar key kept in the record room instead of treasury office. The government should also clarify how they are sure that the key found is the duplicate,” questioned Acharya demanding a forensic examination of the set of keys.

Earlier today, senior BJP leader Bijoy Mohapatra demanded action against Puri Collector Arvind Agarwal for concluding that Srimandir’s Ratna Bhandar key was lost without conducting a thorough search of record room and treasury.

Reacting to the allegations against him, Agarwal said that he is ready to face any probe as everything related to the Ratna Bhnadar is recorded in pen and paper.

A team of Puri administration had found a set of keys in a sealed envelope carrying a tag of ‘duplicate keys of Bhitara Bhandar’ in the district record room on Wednesday. The red envelope that bears the seal and signature of the then temple authorities dated 1985, could possibly be having the key of Bhitara Bandar along with other keys.

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