Razing Of Mutts Near Srimandir Sparks Political Debate In Odisha

Bhubaneswar: As the demolition drive on unauthorised structures within 75 metres from the shrine wall of the Lord Jagannath Temple strikes bolt out of the blue on several age-old religious institutions in the pilgrim town, the move continues to spark resentment among all sections of the society.

While the Puri administration has temporarily halted the demolition drive in view of the government holiday, the Ganesh Chaturthi, political war is reverberating in the State over the issue.

After pulling down of Languli and Emar mutts adjoining the Meghanad wall of Srimandir, another historical showpiece of the ancient mutt culture in Odisha, the Bada Akhada mutt will soon be razed to ground in the pilgrim town.

Before the demolition drive, the Mahant (chief) of the Bada Akhada mutt Harinarayan Das said, “It is quite saddening to see that people who have the responsibility to promote the ancient mutt culture and tradition are not ready to even utter a single word for their preservation in Puri.”

While the mutt inmates have already started to shift their belongings to other places amid the mass eviction drive, the Opposition political parties have come down hard on the state government and accused it of intentionally destroying the mutt culture and also killing the livelihood of thousands of traders, public and tourists directly or indirectly dependent on it.

While BJP’s Puri MLA Jayant Sarangi has strongly condemned the move, Congress too has targeted the government over the demolition drive.

“The widespread demolition of the mutts is not at all welcomed as I feel that the state government should have carried out mass consultation before proceeding with any such move,” said Puri MLA Jayant Sarangi.

Congress MLA Suresh Routray said the government should have reconsidered its decision before approving such large scale eviction.

“I don’t think eviction to such an extent was necessary at all. If the government thinks that such a move shows its prowess, then it is mistaken as people will never forgive,” said Routray.

However, Law Minister Pratap Jena said that everyone should come out to support the eviction as it is for the betterment of the shrine’s security. “I don’t think that politics should be done on such a sensitive matter,” Jena said.

History says Bada Akhada mutt which was established in 1402 by Naga sadhus to save the Srimandir from outside enemy forces has turned into one of the prominent destination for hundu sadhus visiting the pilgrim town.

The rituals and prayers (Naam Sankirtan) in the mutt are held in sync with that of the Srimandir since its inception and over the past few centuries, the mutt has become an indispendable part of the Jagannath culture and tradition.