Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Puri, Sep 1:
It’s now clear that higher ups have been given clean chit in the investigation report on violation of restrictions with regard to climbing of chariots for darshan of the Lords during Rath Yatra at Odisha’s holy city Puri.
A lowly employee of the JagannathTemple Police (JTP), who was guarding Lord Jagannath’s chariot-Nandighosh, has been held responsible for the lapse in the report.
Police in its investigations has held Pravat Samartha, a JTP personnel who was deployed at the charamala (ramp fixed to chariots for climbing atop Nandighosh, .
According to sources, a police commandant, one deputy commandant, one reserve police inspector, one magistrate and one JTP personnel were deployed for the security of Lord Jagannath’s chariot-Nandighosh. The niti prashasak (ritual administrator) was in-charge of the overall security, the sources added. In presence of these personnel, a woman devotee had climbed atop the chariot.
It was alleged that two servitors of the temple had assisted this woman devotee in having darshan of the lord atop the chariot. Following investigations, the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) lodged an FIR against two servitors and the concerned woman devotee at the Kumbharpada police station in connection with the climbing atop of chariot.
In the FIR, it was alleged that due to lapse on part of the JTP personnel, the devotee managed to climb atop the chariot. On the other hand, an additional superintendent of police of the Puri district police was entrusted with the investigation of the incident.
During the course of investigation, statements of senior officers, JTP personnel, two servitors who were in-charge of the security of Nandighaosh and the concerned woman devotee have been recorded.
The magistrate in-charge of the security of the chariot said in his statement that he was on the backside of the chariot at the time and therefore not seen the woman climbing the chariot.
Police officers have said in their statements that they hadn’t seen the woman climbing atop the chariot either.
JTP personnel in-charge of security of the chariot has stated that he had asked the woman not to climb the chariot while no policemen had intervened at that time.
Since police didn’t prevent/stop her, she climbed atop the chariot. The woman devotee has claimed that since she was not prevented by the police she had climbed atop the chariot and no had taken her atop the chariot. She has said that she was descending from the chariot after having darshan, she slipped and a servitor rescued her from slipping further down.
Additional Superintendent of Police (Law &Order) Banabihari Sahu, who has recorded depositions of nine persons in the case, has concluded that it was due to the negligence of the JTP personnel that the concerned woman devotee had managed to climb atop Nandighosh chariot.
This report has become the talk of the town since senior officers have been given clean chit in the report.
It may be recalled that a woman devotee had climbed atop Nandighosh when it was parked in front of the Adapa mandap or Gundicha temple during Rath Yatra this year.
The SJTA had suspended a servitor Kaliyuga Artatrana Pratihari and served show-cause notice to Jagannath Swain Mohapatra, Badagrahi of Lord Jagannath, for allegedly allowing a woman onto the chariot of Lord Jagannath on July 20.
The police had conducted an inquiry into the incident. The Sub Divisional Judicial Magistrate (SDJM) court Puri on August 20 granted the woman devotee– Padmini Patra, wife of a well-known Puri hotelier — bail on a personal bond of Rs 20, 000.
Presently, on the basis of the police’s investigation report the SJTA has filed an FIR at the Kumbharpada police station with criminal charges and sections of the Sri Jagannath Temple Act.