Queue system at Srimandir: Shree Jagannath Sena resorts to violence during Puri bandh

Puri: Members of socio-cultural outfit Shree Jagannath Sena today staged violent protests while observing bandh in Puri over eight-point charter of demands including scrapping of newly implemented queue system at Puri Srimandir.

According to sources, the protesters blocked road by burning tyres on Bada Danda and pelted stones at the residence of Puri Superintendent of Police Sarthak Sarangi.

The protesters also barged into Puri MLA Maheswar Mohanty’s house and damaged properties.

Earlier today, police took Priyadarshan Patnaik, convener of Shree Jagannath Sena, into preventive custody.

“We are ready to die for Lord Jagannath. The administration can only say why I have been arrested. The protest will continue in the future as well,” Patnaik said.

The outfit had informed that protest will be staged today over the issues of queue system at Puri Srimandir, Brahma Parivartan fiasco, missing Ratna Bhandar keys, and manhandling of journalists.

“Resentment out of this undemocratic process will spread across the State and outside. Devotees are not being allowed to enter Srimandir through the three gates. It is almost hooliganism by the authority,” senior servitor Binayak Das Mohapatra said.

In order to disperse the protesters, the police resorted to mild lathi charge and lobbed tear gas on the grand road.

Puri Collector Jyoti Prakash Das said the administration took quick steps to bring the situation under control and prevent any further flare up.

He said a peace committee meeting will be held to sort out the issue.

“We appeal to the people to maintain peace. The protesters became violent by being emotional. The district administration will sit with them and resolve the issue,” said Central Inspector General Soumendra Priyadarshi.

He said while the queue system was introduced for the public on an experimental basis, a review would be done as locals opposed it.

Meanwhile, police conducted a flag march on Puri Grand Road after the law and order situation deteriorated over the introduction of the queue system.

Director General of Police (DGP) R.P. Sharma also reviewed the situation.

The queue system was implemented for the first time by the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) on an experimental basis on October 1 as part of the reform measures suggested by the Supreme Court. However, devotees have expressed displeasure over the system.

Prithviraj Harichandan, general secretary, Odisha BJP, said, “The state government’s incapability, arbitrary and autocratic attitudes are completely responsible for such a situation in Puri.”

“Tradition comes out of acceptance. It cannot be achieved through office and administrative rules. The Puri administration should refrain from interfering in the affairs of Srimandir and should not force administrative rules on devotees,” Satya Prakash Nayak, president of Odisha Congress media cell said.

BJD Spokesperson, Sulochana Das said “The queue system was introduced for darshan in a peaceful and disciplined manner. It is very unfortunate to witness such violence.”

Earlier yesterday, a rally was taken out ahead of the bandh and protesters burnt a poster with pictures of Chief Minister’s Private Secretary V K Pandian, SJTA chief administrator Pradipta Mohapatra and former SJTA chief Suresh Mohapatra.