News WrapGet Handpicked Stories from our editors directly to your mailbox

Jagannath Temple missing keys case: BJP questions on progress, Puri king denies role

Puri king Gajapati Dibyasingha Deb possesses one of the three keys of the Ratna Bhandar

Jagannath Temple missing keys case: BJP questions on progress, Puri king denies role

Bhubaneswar/Puri: Amid controversy and intense scrutiny of the missing keys of the ancient treasury chamber Ratna Bhandar of Puri's 12-century Jagannath Temple, Bharatiya Janata Party leader and Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Friday questioned state Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik over the progress on finding the missing keys. 

“CM ordered setting up of inquiry commission over lost keys of Ratna Bhandar. But I want ask to CM Naveen Babu, does inquiry commission posses a magic wand? Commission is just to make a fool of Odia people,” said Pradhan. 

Meanwhile, Puri king Gajapati Dibyasingha Deb, who possesses one of the three keys of the Ratna Bhandar, refuted any role in the incident. 

"Prior to 1960, the Gajapati as 'Raja Superintendent' in-charge of the administration of temple affairs, was fully responsible and accountable for the safe custody of Ratna Bhandar and its keys," he said.

"But upon implementation of Shri Jagannath Temple Act in 1960, the state government became the supreme authority of the secular management of temple affairs and consequently the ultimate responsibility for ensuring safety of Ratna Bhandar and safe custody of its keys was taken over by the state government with power to frame appropriate rules and/or issue directions in that regard," Deb said.

The keys of the Ratna Bhandar treasury went missing, sparking an intense speculation if the ancient coffers are under threat. State Chief Minister on Monday, June 4, ordered a judicial probe into the matter. The incident came to light two months ago, on April 4, during a meeting of the Sri Jagannath Temple Managing Committee. 

On April 4, after 34-long years, a 16-member team entered the inner chambers of the ancient temple to inspect the physical conditions amid tight security following an order of the Orissa High Court. However, the team could not enter the inner chambers due to unavailability of keys and inspected the condition through an iron grill from outside with the help of search lights.

The state on Thursday appointed retired Orissa High Court judge Raghubir Dash as the chairman of the inquiry commission constituted to probe the case of missing keys of the Jagannath Temple treasury.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik approved Dash's name for the post and the commission will submit its report in August after the annual Ratha Yatra on July 14.

With agency inputs