Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Jul 22:
Six years after the Justice P K Mohanty Commission of Inquiry submitted its report on the 2006 stampede in Puri, the Odisha government, for reasons that can only be speculated on, is yet to make the report public.
The spotlight is back on the report of the Justice Mohanty Commission, gathering dust in some corner of the Odisha secretariat, after the death of two women in stampede during the Nabakalebara Rath Yatra on Saturday last.
Six persons were killed and several others injured in a stampede outside the Shree Jagannath temple on the holy occasion of Kartik Purnima on November 4, 2006.
The state government instituted the Justice P K Mohanty Commission of Inquiry later the same month to probe into how the stampede took place, who was responsible for it and recommend measures for preventing such occurrences in the future.
But the fact that the state government is sitting over the 229-page report and is yet to table it in the State Assembly suggests that the government was only buying time and respite from public outrage in setting up the Commission and had not intention whatsoever to act on its recommendations.The suggestions contained in the report for streamlining the conduct of rituals in the Shree Jagannath temple are gathering dust in the files.
Sources privy to the commission’s report claim that the recommendations made in the report are very useful and relevant. They said if the government accepts these recommendations, indiscipline in the Shree Jagannath temple can be controlled to a greater extent.
Sources revealed that in its report, the commission has recommended that devotees coming for darshan of the Lords can only enter the temple through Simhadwara (Lions Gate) and exit through the other three gates of the temple. The commission has also suggested provision of information about the ongoing rituals in the temple through electronic display boards at Simhadwara, railway station and Shree Jagannath Temple Administration’s office.
The report has further recommended stopping the traditional practice of allowing sevayats (servitors), their family members and paid darshan ticket holders from entering the Garbha Gruha (sanctum sanctorum) during the mangala alati. The report says though the Garbha Gruha has a capacity to accommodate 200-250 devotees at a time, the number of devotees at times cross 350 and therefore paid darshan ticket holders be allowed only up to the bhitara katha of the temple.
The commission has pointed out that during sahana mela darshan (open darshan), devotees are allowed to go into the Garbha Gruha up to the Ratnasimhasana (bejeweled throne on which the deities are placed). Devotees too pass through the passage behind the Ratnasimhasana, which is completely dark and women devotees are often subjected to indecent behavior. Therefore the entry of devotees should be restricted up to the bhitara katha, sources revealed quoting from the report.
Moreover, the commission has also recommended restrictions on entry of sevayats, who do not have assigned duties of the Lords for the day, into the Garbha Gruha. Besides, it has also recommended that officials of the temple administration should not be allowed into the sanctum sanctorum.
The report recommended employing another sevayat in case one doesn’t report on time.