Bhubaneswar/Puri: In yet another headache for Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, the keys of the Ratna Bhandar of 12-century Jagannath Temple in Puri have reportedly gone missing. This has given ammo in the hands of opposition Bharatiya Janata Party and the Shankaracharya of Puri to target Patnaik and Law Minister Pratap Jena.
Sri Jagannath Temple Managing Committee member Ramchandra Das Mahapatra on Sunday said that during a meeting of the committee held on April 04, it was recorded that the keys of the Treasury’s inner chambers had gone missing. On April 04, a team, consisting of 16 members, had visited the ‘Ratna Bhandar’ after a span of 34 years. Amid heightened security, the team performed a quick inspection of its physical conditions in the wake of the Orissa High Court’s order.
After the inspection, an official of the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration had said that there was no need for team members to enter the inner chamber as they were observable from outside only through an iron grill. Now it seems that the members used searchlights to check the condition of the inner chambers from outside because the keys were not available.
The Ratna Bhandar has seven chambers in total. Out of the seven, the first two are outer chambers and the rest are inner chambers. The outer chambers are used now and again.
Talking to news agency PTI, Das Mahapatra said neither the Puri district nor the Jagannath Temple administration has the key of the inner treasury. On Sunday, the BJP asked for a clarification from Patnaik on the issue.
“The Chief Minister should give a clarification on how the key of the temple’s inner treasury went missing and who is responsible for it,” Odisha BJP spokesman Pitambar Acharya told the media. He further blamed the Biju Janata Dal government for ignoring Lord Jagannath, claiming that the Odisha government had not taken any concrete step as yet.
Meanwhile, Swami Nischalananda Saraswati, the Shankaracharya of Puri, lashed out at the state government for the incident. Taking it to the task, the Shankaracharya said that the Odisha government and the temple administration have proven to be unsuccessful in fulfilling their responsibilities.
Calling for a probe into the matter, the seer urged the government to ensure the safety of the Ratna Bhandar.
Some organisations like the Sachetana Nagarik Manch and the Jagannath Sena protested against the incident near the Shree Jagannath temple. The team’s inspection on April 04 came in the wake of the Orissa HC’s order to the ASI (Archaeological Survey of India) to inspect the safety and structural stability of the Ratna Bhandar.