Missing Ratna Bhandar key: BJP questions relevance of probe panel

Bhubaneswar: The Odisha unit of BJP on Tuesday trained its gun on the State government by targeting former Puri collector Aravind Agarwal on the missing Ratna Bhandar key of Puri Srimandir.

Addressing a presser, BJP spokesperson and senior lawyer Pitambar Acharya alleged that a ‘conspiracy’ is being hatched to suppress the sensitive issue.

The saffron party leader questioned the move of Aravind of depositing the ‘duplicate key’ with the district treasury before handing over his charge following his transfer.

Earlier, the former Collector on June 13 had claimed to have recovered the Ratna Bhandar key from an envelope in Puri record room with ‘duplicate key’ written on it.

“Under whose instructions and on what basis the outgoing Puri collector deposited the key with the treasury. If the original key is still missing, from where the duplicate key of Ratna Bhandar came?” said Acharya.

Acharya further stated that the party had lodged an FIR in connection with the missing Ratna Bhandar key on June 13. But after waiting for nearly four-and-a-half hours, no case was registered by Singhadwar police. Suddenly, at around 8:30 PM, the Puri Collector claimed that a duplicate key of Ratna Bhandar was recovered from the district record room.

“If the key that was recovered is perceived to be the original one, then whether there is any relevance of the judicial commission now?” Acharya asked.

It is pertinent to mention here that the disappearance of the Ratna Bhandar key had sparked widespread public outcry in the State. This prompted Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik to form a judicial commission on June 4. However, it was only after 10 days that the terms of reference for the judicial commission were fixed.

“Disappearance of the Ratna Bhandar key is a criminal conspiracy. We want to ask the Odisha government on what basis Puri collector kept the duplicate key in district treasury illegally when a judicial probe is on. There is no provision of keeping any duplicate key in district treasury,” Acharya added.

Responding to BJP’s allegations, BJD spokesperson Sameer Dash stated that “It is a tactics of the opposition party to defame the government.”

Dash further informed that as per law, the Puri collector deposited the key in the treasury and the matter will be informed to the commission through an affidavit also.