Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Cuttack, Jul 16:
The Odisha High Court today ordered that only sevayats (servitors) connected with the rituals will be allowed into the sanctum sanctorum of Shree Jagannath temple at Puri during the Nabajoubana darshan of the Lord.
The court made it clear that relatives and family members of the servitors will not be allowed into the sanctum sanctorum.
The court further ordered to fix CCTV cameras at the entry and exit points of the temple and submit the footage to the court after the event.
The court made the pronouncement while conducting a hearing on a PIL seeking lifting of the ban on Nabajoubana darshan of the Lords by devotees imposed by the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA). On March 18, the SJTA had decided against allowing devotees to have darshan of the Lords on the Nabajoubana darshan day which is held a day before the Rath Yatra.
The petitioner, Abhisek Das, had challenged the SJTA’s decision in the High Court and had stated that it was the responsibility of government to provide devotees with an opportunity to have Nabajoubana darshan of the Lords and such a decision to deprive lakhs of devotees of the opportunity of darshan would hurt their religious feelings and sentiments.
Since Nabajoubana Vesha darshan happens a day before the Rath Yatra, the SJTA had contended that it will be difficult to manage the huge crowd expected to decsend on Puri for the Nabakalebara Rath Yatra. To justify the ban, it had raised the spectre of a stampede that would endanger the safety and security of the devotees and make smooth conduct of Rath Yatra difficult.
The SJTA had however, told the media on Wednesday that only sevayats (servitors) and their family members will be allowed to have the Nabajoubana darshan and no VIPS or officers will be allowed to have Nabajoubana darshan of the Lords.
Earlier on Tuesday, the SJTA had announced that VIPs and officers would be allowed to have Nabajouban darshan of the Lords at the Shree Jagannath temple while ordinary devotees will be barred from the same. The SJTA on Wednesday was forced make a complete volte-face on its decision following strong reactions from the public after the decision was reported in the media.
Realizing its mistake in attempting to discriminate between devotees as VIPs, officers and ordinary devotees, the SJTA, in a face-saving measure, cited the recent stampede at Pushkar Mela in Andhra Pradesh as the reason behind the reversal of its earlier decision and the need for imposing greater restrictions.
DGP Sanjeev Marik Wednesday made a visit to the temple and took stock of the security arrangements inside the temple. After Marik’s visit, it was decided to install a CCTV camera in front of the Mukti Mandap to keep a close vigil on the Beherana Dwara.
As per tradition, devotees enter the sanctum sanctorum through this entrance to have Nabajoubana darshan of the Lords. The CCTV camera installed here will be able to detect imposters trying to sneak into the sanctum sanctorum to have darshan in the garb of servitors, said police sources.
Another CCTV camera will be installed at Jay Vijay Dwara near the Sri Mandir Bhitara Katha facing the idol of Lord Garuda. This camera will keep a watch on Satapahacha, Dhukudi Dwara and Panda Dwara, the sources added.
Apart from the above, more than 16 CCTV cameras have been installed in Sri Mandir. These cameras will keep a close vigil on the activities and movements inside the temple.