Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Jun 11:
The detention of two foreigners who were apparently taking photographs of the famous Lingaraj Temple in Odisha’s capital city on the sly on Tuesday has once again highlighted the security threat looming large over the 11th century architectural marvel.
Two foreign visitors were apprehended by locals while taking photographs of Lord Lingaraj Temple through a camera fitted to a kite. The kite was hovering around the temple about 100 metres away when the locals noticed the cameras fitted in them and reported the incident to the police.
Both the tourists were taken to the police station for questioning. While one of them was identified as David Copithorne of Australia, the other one was George Smelt of Canada. Their laptop and camera have been seized and being examined.
The tourists, however, claimed that they were taking pictures of the setting sun.
It may be noted that similar incidents took place in November 29 and 30, 2014 when some foreign tourists, along with a few Indian men, attempted to photograph the dome of the temple with kite-cameras. It had led to arguments among the servitors and the visitors following which the visitors had left.
While it is possible that the two foreigners could just be curious tourists eager to carry some images from their visit back home, the point to note is that they were spotted by the locals and not the security personnel deployed in and around the temple.
In the absence of use of high-tech and round the clock monitoring of the temple, the servitors and the locals appear to be the only guarantors of safety for the temple on most occasions, as it happened on Tuesday.
While the handful of policemen deployed at the temple are busy checking the belongings of devotees entering the temple, anyone with an evil intention could just sneak in through the west side boundary wall, which has grown progressively lower over the years, without being detected.
The height of the wall has gone down in the past few decades due to heightening of roads every time they are constructed. The overall height has become low enough for a man to cross easily.
Security agencies continue to issue intelligence inputs on a possible attack on the 11th century architectural wonder, which also holds religious significance among the Hindu devotees, every now and then. This, however, has not been enough to wake up the ASI to think of increasing the height of boundary wall.
Earlier, the Commissionerate of Police Rajendra Sharma had written a letter to the ASI (Archaeological Survey of India) to increase the height of the temple wall, but no action has been taken so far.
“We are planning to use wired fence over the western gate soon,” was the short answer from ASI Chief of Odisha.