Odisha CM orders judicial probe into missing Ratna Bhandar keys

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Bhubaneswar, June 4 (IANS) Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Monday ordered a judicial probe into the circumstances leading to non-availability of the keys of Ratna Bhandar (treasury) of Jagannath temple in Puri.

The inquiry will be conducted by a retired judge of the Orissa High Court and be completed within three months, said a statement from the Chief Minister’s Office.

The decision was taken when Law Minister Pratap Jena met the Chief Minister at the state secretariat to discuss the issue.

The judicial probe will find out the circumstances leading to the missing of the treasury keys and further steps will be taken after the probe is over, said Jena.

The non-availability of keys of Ratna Bhandar (treasury) had drawn flak, with Puri Shankaracharya Swami Nischalananda Saraswati of Govardhan Peeth having demanded a probe into the case.

At a meeting of the Sri Jagannath Temple Managing Committee on April 4, it was recorded that the keys of the inner chambers of the treasury had gone missing.

As per norms, the keys are handed over to the District Collector after locking the temple treasury. The keys are then deposited in the district treasury. However, there was no mention of receipt of keys either in the government treasury or with the Collector, said sources.

A 16-member team had on April 4 entered the Ratna Bhandar after 34 years to inspect its physical conditions following an order of the Orissa High Court. However, they could not enter the inner chambers as they did not have the keys. They returned after completing the inspection of outer chambers, sources added.

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Meanwhile, the Congress took a dig at the state government over the missing key issue.

“Judicial inquiry is restricted to announcement only as the mandate of the commission is not clear. This is an attempt to divert attention from core issue,” said Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) President Niranjan Patnaik.


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