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Darshan at Puri Srimandir halted following servitors-police face-off   

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Puri: General darshan at Srimandir here has been halted today after a group of servitors and police personnel had a face-off over entry of two devotees last evening.

Sources said the gates of the temple have remained closed triggering resentment among devotees. Besides, daily rituals like Mangala Alati at the centuries-old shrine have not begun yet.

Moreover, as per latest reports, the discussion held between temple administration and servitors to resolve the issue was not conclusive. District Collector Jyoti Prakash Das requested the servitors to resume the rituals at the shrine, but in vain.

Meanwhile, tension prevailed in front of the temple when irate devotees barged into the temple after breaking the barricades and scuffled with the cops present on the spot.

Puri SP Sarthak Sarangi said, ” We have registered two cases in connection with yesterday’s face-off between servitors and police and examined the CCTV footage. We have already appealed the servitors not to halt rituals of the deities at the temple. But we have no rights to open the temple gates forcefully. Devotees should not be disappointed for it and wait till the temple gates open.”

Last night, police officials had allegedly prevented three devotees from West Bengal from entering the temple suspecting them as foreigners. A verbal duel followed by a scuffle had later ensued between a group of servitors and police officials when Bhitarchu servitor Bhawani Shankar Mohapatra asked the cops to allow entry of the devotees. Later, a complaint was filed at Singhadwara police station by servitor Mohapatra, following which the cops also filed a counter FIR.

When asked, Puri SP Sarthak Sarangi said, “We have registered two cases in connection with yesterday’s face-off between servitors and police and examined the CCTV footage. We have already appealed the servitors not to halt rituals of the deities at the temple. But we have no rights to open the temple gates forcefully. Devotees should not be disappointed for it and wait till the temple gates open.”

Terming the incident as unfortunate, Puri Gajapati Maharaj Dibyasingha Deb said disruption in temple rituals is not acceptable. “Government functionaries at top level should intervene into the matter. Let the standoff between servitors and police not prevent lakhs of devotees from having darshan of Lod Jagannath. I appeal all stakeholders to initiate talks and resolve the issue.”