Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Puri, Jul 13:
A five-member fact-finding team of the Odisha Congress led by party’s senior leader Chandrasekhar Sahoo today visited the pilgrim town Puri to conduct an on-the-spot survey into the circumstances that led to the relocation of the bust of Utkalmani Pandit Gopabandhu Dash from in front of the Singhdwara (Lion’s Gate) of the Jagannath temple.
The team, which has legislator Tara Prasad Bahinipati, senior leaders Ganeswar Behera and Shibananda Ray as members, would submit its report to PCC chief Prasad Harichandan.
Earlier in the day, the team held discussions with the District Collector Aravind Agarwal at the Circuit House here.
Various social organizations had protested the relocation of the statue on Saturday.
“The government has moved the statue of a freedom fighter as if it was an unauthorized structure. They should have taken the opposing parties on board and arrived at a consensus to shift it to a mutually agreeable point,” Chandrasekhar Sahu suggested.
The BJD predictably berated the Congress for raking up what it called was a non-issue’.
“The Congress is making an issue out of nothing as they don’t have any issue on hand now. They should refrain from raking up such things,” senior BJD leader Amar Satpathy said.
On the other hand, the district administration has justified the move keeping in view the upcoming rush for the Nabakalebara Rath Yatra on Saturday.
“The Justice PK Mohanty Commission of inquiry formed after the stampede in 2008 had suggested shifting of structures in and around the Lion’s Gate, including the Gopabandhu’s statue. Every year, police department also give suggestions to remove the structures around this area, which pose the threat of stampede during several festivals of the Lords.
Notably, the district administration, in association with the civic body, had demolished the information center and relocated the statue of Gopabandhu Dahs from near the Lion’s Gate to near the Meghanad wall to ease traffic congestion.