Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Cuttack, Nov 11:

The Orissa High Court today granted interim relief to Sri Mandir servitor Damodar Mahasuara, prime accused in the Niladri Bije fiasco.

Niladri Bije disturbance

The High Court said Mahasuara cannot be arrested by the police until further orders. The High Court issued the order while conducting a hearing on the petition filed by him challenging the proceedings of the police to declare him an absconder.

While granting interim protection to Mahasuara from arrest by the police in all four cases against him in connection with the Niladri Bije fiasco, the High Court asked him to appear before the investigating officer (IO) on November 21.

The High Court had on October 27 granted interim stay on the proceedings of a lower court to proclaim servitor Mahasuara as an absconder. The court had also issued an interim stay on execution of the Non-Bailable Warrant (NBW) issued against him by the lower court.

On the other hand, there is a proposal of a committee comprising of senior lawyers to meet the Puri Collector for a mutual settlement of the matter. The committee after holding discussions with the Collector will submit a report.

The court has fixed the next of hearing on the matter on November 29.

It may be recalled that some servitors had an altercation with the Collector during the Niladri Bije rituals when he confronted them after the servitors and their kin alighted from the Taladhwaja chariot, in clear violation of High Court and Sri Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) orders. The incident had led to a delay in the conduct of rituals and pahandi of Lord Sudarshan.

Notably, Kashinath Khuntia and seven other servitors– Damodar Mahasuara, Jayakrushna Mahasuara, Saina Khuntia, Bhimsen Palankadhari, Ipsit Pratihari, Rabi Dash and Bhagirathi Khuntia– who are accused of heckling the collector during the Niladri Bije rituals were declared as absconders by police on July 27.