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Odisha Congress Stages Protest Rally For Reopening Of All Four Gates At Jagannath Temple

The Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) campaign committee chairman Bijay Patnaik, former OPCC presidents Jaydev Jena and Prasad Harichandan, Jeypore MLA Taraprasad Bahinipati, Mohana MLA Dasarathi Gamango and several other senior Congress leaders participated in the rally.

Jagannath Temple, Puri
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The Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) on Monday took out a protest rally here for immediate reopening of all the four gates of Shree Jagannath temple for devotees.

Holding banners and party flags and beating cymbals and ‘mridang’, Congress workers led by OPCC president Sarat Pattanayak took out the protest march from Saradha Bali to the office of the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) on Puri Grand Road.

OPCC campaign committee chairman Bijay Patnaik, former OPCC presidents Jaydev Jena and Prasad Harichandan, Jeypore MLA Taraprasad Bahinipati, Mohana MLA Dasarathi Gamango and several other senior Congress leaders participated in the rally.

The party leaders submitted a memorandum to SJTA chief administrator Ranjan Das addressed to the Odisha Governor.

Pattanayak said all four gates of the Puri temple should be reopened for devotees before the beginning of the holy Odia month of Kartik (begins from October 29).

"Puri is one of the four Dhams of India and lakhs of devotees from across the globe come here for a darshan of Lord Jagannath. However, they face a lot of problems while visiting the temple. A devotee died recently while standing in a queue to visit the temple, which brought bad name to the state," he alleged.

Alleging that the BJD government failed to do anything for the development of the temple despite remaining in power for almost 24 years, the Congress leaders said now the government has closed three out of four gates of the shrine for the general public for which devotees are facing immense problems, Patanayak said.

The party also demanded the government to reopen the Ratna Bhandar of the temple for repairs and inventory of ornaments and valuables stored at the temple treasury.

The Congress leaders also urged the state government to hand over land acquired for the Vedanta university project back to farmers as the Supreme Court has quashed the land acquisition.

"The Ratna Bhandar has not been opened for a long time. No one knows whether all the valuables stored inside the treasury are safe or not. So, the Bhandar should be reopened and a detailed inventory of gold and other ornaments of the Lord should be made," demanded Bahinipati.

The party warned to intensify stirs across the state if the government fails to address the issues before the beginning of the holy month of Kartik.

SJTA chief administrator Ranjan Kumar Das said the memorandum will be forwarded to the governor. Das also assured to take appropriate action after going through the demands.

Meanwhile, BJP leader Samir Mohanty in Bhubaneswar criticised the state government for not forming any committee till now for the opening of Ratna Bhandar and the conduct of inventory.

The temple managing committee had submitted a resolution to the high court as well as the state government on the issue on August 4 but nothing has been done yet. 

BJD leader Amar Satpathy said the three gates of Puri temple have been closed for the Srimandir Parikrama project. The government has no intention to put devotees in trouble, he added.

On the reopening of Ratna Bhandar, he said the government will follow the court directions in this regard and added that the law department was examining the court order.

Notably, entry of devotees to the temple through the four gates was closed on March 20, 2020 due to Covid-19 restrictions. Later, when the Covid situation improved, the Singhadwar (Lions Gate) was reopened for devotees.

In July this year, the government reopened the Paschim Dwar (west gate) only for Puri residents for performing daily rituals. However, all three gates (excluding the Lions Gate) of the temple have remained closed for the general devotees in view of the Parikrama project going on around the temple.

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