Keeping Srimandir’s donated jewellery in bank locker sparks off new controversy

Bhubaneswar: Even before the row over missing Ratna Bhandar key of Puri Srimandir could subside, the temple administration has stirred up yet another controversy with its decision to keep gold, silver and other precious jewellery donated to the deities in a bank locker.

BJP today questioned how the temple administration and state government could decide on where to keep the donated jewellery without making amendments to law. The move shows that the Ratna Bhandar is not in safe hands, alleged the saffron party.

“How can the district administration and state government park gold in SBI lockers without amending the rules and following procedures? This has raised suspicion among 4.5 crore Odias. It is evident that Ratna Bhandar has been looted. The State government has stolen everything,” alleged Pitambar Acharya, BJP spokesperson.

As per the Section 7 of the Jagannath Temple Rules 1960, gold and other precious donated by devotees should be kept at the Ratna Bhandar separately after making an entry in the register. Every month the State government would examine of the stock, the rules state.

According to reports, last Friday, the temple administration kept all the jewellery donated by devotees in last 23 years in SBI locker after the Supreme Court’s reprimand on indiscipline in the management of the temple.

Meanwhile, Deputy Administrator (Finance) of the temple Kishore Chandra Pradhan informed that the donated jewellery have been kept at the strong room of the Najir section.

“Gold donations are brought to Najir section after issuing a receipt. Stock entry is made for such donations and later the valuables are kept in the strong room of Najir section,” Pradhan stated.

On the other hand, the State unit of BJP has announced to launch an agitation at all district headquarters and subdivisions in the State protesting the missing Ratna Bhadar key. The party activists will lodge FIR at all police stations for one week starting June 12. Besides, mass ‘deepa dana’ will be offered at Jagannath temples across the state.

“Who is the State government is trying to shield by not lodging a criminal case over the missing Ratna Bhadnar key? Tomorrow at district headquarters and sub divisional headquarters BJP will stage demonstration and create awareness over the issue,” stated Samir Mohanty, BJP State Vice-President in a presser.

In his reaction, BJD Vice-President Debi Prasad Mishra said, “The truth will come out after getting the inquiry commission report. Spreading rumours, will only invite disrespect to our culture.” he said.