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Politics Over Oven Breaking

Puri: The twin issues- vandalisation of temple kitchen ovens and digging of pits close to 12th century shrine in Puri, continues to dominate Odisha politics with opposition BJP and Congress demanding immediate arrest of culprits and stop work in prohibited zone of the living monument.
While the BJP has been demanding immediate stop of construction works being carried out by the state government under Puri Heritage Corridor project allegedly by violating norms under the Ancient Monument and Archeological Sites and Remains Act, 1959, Congress alleged that the vandalisation of kitchen ovens was made to divert people’s attention from alleged illegal constructions.

OPCC spokesperson Nishikant Mishra in a press conference here said that over 40 Chullha, earthen oven where Lord Jagannath’s Mahaprasad is prepared, were vandalized to divert attention. “How come any outsider enter into the temple kitchen and damage ovens? It appeared that the vandalisation of chullha was intended to divert public attention from illegal constuction near the shrine,” Mr.Mishra said.

Meanwhile, the Bhubaneswar unit of BJP Tuesday staged an agitation near Sri Ram Mandir in the state capital demanding immedidate arrest of the culprits involved in temple kitchen vandalisation and stop of Puri Heritage Corridor project work till a clearance by the Archeological Survey of India.

Chief Secretary S C Mohapatra has meanwhile claimed that the Puri Heritage Corridor project work is being done in “coordination” of the ASI. He said there is no danger to the temple structure as feared by a setion of people.

BJP leader and Bhubaneswar MP Aparajita Sarangi, however, claimed that the state government carried out earth work and dug big pits in the prohibited zone (within 100 meters from temple) despite “no work” notice by ASI.BJP national vice-president Baijayyant Panda supporting Sarangi Tuesday in a twitter post said: “A very important revelation indeed. The excuses being given by Odisha’s governing party have been demolished.”

“The state must now honour every Odia’s sentiment and stop its unauthorised destruction of the prohibited area surrounding the temple of Mahaprabhu Jagannath,” he tweeted.Meanwhile, Puri district police expedited investigation into the chullha vandalisation in the temple kitchen on Saturday night. Puri SP KV said CCTV footage has revealed that a person was inside the temple at 1 o’clock on Saturday night.

“In another footage, he is seen accompanied outside the temple by four Jagannath Temple Police (JTP) personnel (JTP do not come under Odisha police and they are engaged dby the temple administration). All the four JTP personnel were interrogated yesterday to find out the discussions they held with the person, under what circumstances was he inside the temple and under what circumstances did he leave the temple,” the SP said.In order to identify the person, the CCTV footage is being shown to the temple servitors and staff.

The SP further said that as per instruction of the Chief Secretary and DGP, sufficient police personnel have been deployed since Mondfay for the assistance of JTP to secure the premises at night.More than 40 ‘chulhas’ or earthen ovens were found vandalised at the holy kitchen on Sunday morning, leading to a delay in the rituals of the trinity — Lord Balabhadra, Devi Subhadra and Lord Jagannath, and a scarcity of holy food the ‘Mahaprasad’ for devotees. Latest report from Odisha Police said that “The suspect identified in CCTV footage has just now been detained. Further interrogation is underway”.