Mutt demolition goes on despite resistance

Bhubaneswar: The Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA) today started demolishing a Hanuman mutt near Jayadev Vaitka in Khandagiri area here, which was allegedly built illegally on a government land, amid stiff resistance from locals.

Tension ran high in the locality as BDA officials reached the spot along with police force to raze the mutt but faced protest from the locals. Men and women opposed the team by blocking the road leading to the mutt while burning tyres and not letting the BDA excavator to reach the site.

“Before undertaking demolition of the illegal structure, we faced resistance from locals as they were misguided that we were here to raze the nearby slums. But when we explained them about the court order, the protest subsided,” said BDA enforcement officer Deb Prasad Das.

Since 1989, self-appointed mutt head Baba Raghunath Das has been encroaching on the land which come under the General Administration department, added the BDA official. The encroached area consists of 450 decimel and covers partly two plots, he informed.

When the matter came to notice of the State government, a case was filed in the High Court. The verdict of the court delivered on January 22 this year had directed the government to raze the mutt, said the BDA official.

Local BJD MP Prasanna Patasani, who is rumoured to have recommended the State government to lease out the land to the mutt, however, said, “I am not aware of demolition of any such structure. However, in my view, no mutt or asharm should be demolished.”

Replying to queries from mediapersons, Patasani added, “I am not involved with that. Not for a day, I stayed there. I used to go there to worship, do yoga and meditation. Besides, that ashram is not in my name. I have not applied for that. Even the trust is not in my name.”

Refuting the charges of his involvement with the mutt, he said, “Pattasani Mutt does not exist. You should verify the fact before asking me.”

Replying to a specific question, he quipped, “I am writing recommendation letters for all the mutts. If you make an ashram tomorrow and ask for a letter, I will make a recommendation for that as well.”