Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Konark, Jun 3:
Almost three weeks after supporters of self-styled Odisha godman Bana Baba reoccupied the earlier evicted hermitage built illegally on forest land near Konark, Puri district administration today started a demolition drive on the said land.
As per reports till noon, the Kali temple and the havan kund built in the ashram premises have been demolished.
The demolition drive, however, was not peaceful as hundreds of supporters of the godman including women staged a sit-in in front of the ashram. Some even clashed with the cops leading to arrest of as many as 25 people including 10 women.
While one of the female devotees attempted self-immolation, her bid was foiled by the security forces present on the scene.
Atmosphere remains tense and 11 platoons of forces have been deployed at the scene to avoid any untoward incident. Section 144 has also been imposed in the area.
The demolition drive is being carried out in presence of Puri deputy collector, additional SP, three DSPs and senior officials of the Forest Department.
It may be noted here that Bana Baba alias Kalki Baba alias Banambara Moharana initially built his ashram on 10 acres of forest land back in 1999. Later the periphery of the hermitage was extended to 19.60 acres of forest land and 30 decimal of revenue land as per finding of the Revenue Department.
Even though the ashram was evicted on September 5, 2015 following media reports and the Forest Department established its section office in the building, his devotees reoccupied the land and the building again on May 13.