PK Mohapatra assumes SJTA chief charge amidst key row

State

Bhubaneswar/Puri, June 15

Principal Secretary School & Mass Education today Pradipta Kumar Mohapatra today assumed additional charge as the chief administrator of Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) in Puri even as the Ratna Bhandar key issue continued to rage with BJD and opposition BJP leaders indulging in mudslinging.

The 1988-batch IAS officer took over after a darshan of the three deities inside the 12th century shrine.

He replaces Pradip Kumar Jena who was shifted from the post in the wake of the Ratna Bhandar key loss episode.

Mohapatra was SJTA chief administrator from April 27, 2010 to May 13, 2012, while working as the Revenue Divisional Commissioner (RDC), central division.

“My priority is to ensure a smooth Rath Jatra of the deities next month. Other works will be done at the same time,” Mohapatra said refusing to comment on key loss crisis.

Meanwhile, senior BJD leader Dr Damodar Rout stirred hornet nest saying that the jewelries chests of the Trinity were last opened in 1978 when senior BJP leader Biswabhusan Harichandan was the State Law Minister.

Rout said, “They are saying that the Ratna Bhandar has been opened many a time in these years. I have been in politics since last 45 years but I have never heard of the Bhandar being opened even once. In 1978, when Biswabhusan Harichandan was the law minister, that is when I remember the Bhandar was last opened,” Rout said.

“Now, the question arises if the Bhandar was opened then and and inspection carried out at that time. Biswabhusan Babu must be having all the information about the key. If they had opened it, they should also be able to answer where the key is now,” Rout said.

He further said how come no one was aware about a duplicate key, if there was one. These things are bound to create doubt in everyone’s mind.

“Lord Jagannath can only solve this. And this ongoing debate and the blame game over the Ratna Bhandar key will be taken care of by Lord Jagannath only,” he said.

Rout also expressed surprise over the statement of Puri Collector Arvind Agarwal on facing any probe.

“I don’t understand why the Collector said that he is ready to face any probe into the issue. Why would he face any probe? Why is he owning up,” he asked.

However, Harichandan in response to Rout’s remarks said, “Taking care of the key is the Administrator’s responsibility and not of the minister. After getting the interim report then, the Government had directed him to open the Ratna Bhandar and inspect the ornaments and other valuables kept inside it. But it was never a Minister’s lookout to keep the track of the key”

He asserted there is certainly a ‘mystery’ shrouding the controversy.

“There is some mystery behind the sudden appearance of a duplicate key,” he added.

Notably, the Puri Collector had on June 13 late evening announced tracing a set of duplicate keys contained in an envelope inside the District Record Room locker.

What has surprised many, including senior servitor Binayak Das Mohapatra as to how duplicate keys were made when the originals were found lost.

The Commission of Inquiry on missing of ‘Ratna Bhandar’ Key headed by retired justice of Orissa High Court Raghubir Das has started functioning from today.

The Commission will enquire and report on missing of keys of the inner chamber of the ‘Ratna Bhandar’ of Srimandir.

The state government has given three month time and if necessitated, the commission will seek more time to examine, enquire and report on the matter, he added.

“I have requested government for setting up Commission’s headquarters at Cuttack. The State government has considered the proposal and made correspondence with Cuttack Collector to provide place in Cuttack for setting up the office of the Commission of Inquiry,” Justice Raghubir Dash said.

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