Rituals hit at Puri Srimandir following servitor-police face-off

Puri: Rituals at the Shree Jagannath Temple in the pilgrim town has been hit on Friday following a face-off between servitor and police over entry of two devotees yesterday evening.

While the gates of the temple remain closed, rituals including the Mangala Alati of Lord Jagannath and other deities are yet to begin. Thousands of devotees have been waiting outside the temple and have expressed their anguish over the delay in rituals especially at this festive time of the year when the 12th century shrine witnesses huge footfall.

Puri Collector Jyoti Prakash Das, temple Chief Administrator Pradipta Kumar Mohapatra and other officials held discussions with the servitor groups to resolve the issue but no headway has been made in this connection.

Puri Collector Jyoti Prakash Das said that despite discussions with the servitor groups, the latter are not ready to withdraw their protest.

“Even as assurances have been given to carry out a fair probe into allegations of misbehaviour from both the servitor and police sides, the dispute could not be resolved. The delay in rituals of the Lord and public displeasure over the issue will not send a good message,” Das said.

According to sources, a servitor Bhawani Shankar Mohapatra of Bhitarichha servitor group alleged that he was misbehaved by a police over entry of two persons into the temple and later manhandled by some other police personnel during a scuffle over the issue yesterday evening. Following the incident he lodged a complaint at Singhadwara police station.

However, refuting the charges of attack, the police personnel have lodged a counter case alleging the servitor of manhandling them.

Singhadwara police station IIC has assured that investigation will be carried out on the basis of CCTV footages.