Bhubaneswar, June 7 (IANS) Puri Gajapati Dibyasingha Deb on Thursday blamed the Jagannath temple administration for the missing keys of “Ratna Bhandar” (treasury).
Gajapati, in a letter released to a section of media here, said he failed to understand why he was made responsible for the actions and inactions of the temple administration.
He said that the Odisha government took over the management of Srimandir after the implementation of the Sri Jagannath Temple Act in 1960, which empowered the state government as the supreme authority for ensuring the safety of Ratna Bhandar and safe custody of its keys.
“After the Government of Odisha took over management of Srimandir from my late revered father Gajapati Maharaja Birakishore Deb in 1960 (pursuant to implementation of Shri Jagannath Temple Act,1955), the keys of the Inner Ratna-bhandara have always been in the custody of the government functionaries concerned,” said Gajapati.
“After 1960, at no point of time, the Gajapati has been entrusted with the keys of Inner Ratna Bhandar nor has he been involved in any way with the handling of the said keys,” he informed.
He said the few times that the Inner Ratna Bhandar had been opened after 1960, the Srimandir Administrator and Puri Collector had been involved with the handling and custody of its keys.
“Since 1960, the Gajapati has been entrusted with the custody of one out of the three keys of outer Ratna Bhandar and his authorised representative attends every opening of outer Ratna Bhandar with the said key, as and when required by the Srimandir Administration,” said the Puri Gajapati.
The outer Ratna Bhandar could not be opened unless all the three custodians of the keys — representative of the Gajapati, Srimandir Administrator and Sri Mandir Bhandar-Mekapa — were present with the keys in their respective custodies, he informed.
“I am surprised to learn that views have been expressed recently in both electronic and print media raising questions about the role and responsibility of the Gajapati regarding safe custody of the keys of Inner Ratna Bhandar, especially having regard to his position as Chairman of the Srimandir Managing Committee,” said Gajapati.
The controversy erupted after the keys of inner Ratna Bhandar of Jagannath temple were reported to be missing.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has appointed Justice Raghubir Dash, a retired Orissa High Court judge, to inquire into the circumstances leading to non-availability of the keys of Ratna Bhandar of Jagannath temple in Puri.