Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Puri, Jul 12:
The denizens of the holy town on Saturday resented the shifting of the statue of Utkalmani Gopabandhu Das from near the Jagannath Temple purportedly to facilitate the movement of pilgrims ahead of Nabakalebara Rath Yatra in Odisha’s Puri town.
The officials of Archaeological department with the help of civic body personnel uprooted the statue from the near the Lion’s Gate with the help of a crane. The bust of the freedom fighter will be reinstalled near the Meghanada wall.
Besides, the information center near the Lion’s Gate was also demolished for better management of traffic.
“The statue of Gopabandhu Das was established on May 8, 1934 by Mahatma Gandhi in the presence of eminent freedom fighters. He is a pride of our state and the uprooting of the statue is an insult to the great soul,” said Surendranath Mishra, Chief Coordinator Jana Swartha Surakshya Samiti, Puri.
In protest against the demolition drive, members of social organisations staged demonstration in front of the Jagannath temple and shouted slogans.
“Many people have seen this statue here. The district administration is shifting the statue to hide its faults,” said Dhirendranath Das, the great-grandson of Gopabandhu Das.
District administration officials said that the step has been taken to widen the road in anticipation of huge rush of tourists during Nabakalebara Rath Yatra. For this, alternative arrangements have been made.
“Structures have been constructed near the Meghanada wall where the statue will be installed. In addition to this, arrangements have been made to set up the information centre near this,” said Abhimanyu Behera, Eviction Officer, Puri Municipality.