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Puri Priests Protest 'Beef Supporter' CM Mamata Banerjee's Visit to Jagannath Temple

Sujit Nath | News18.com

Updated: April 18, 2017, 8:09 PM IST
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Puri Priests Protest 'Beef Supporter' CM Mamata Banerjee's Visit to Jagannath Temple
File photo Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee (Photo: PTI)

Kolkata: Annoyed with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s ‘support’ for those who eat beef, more than 12,000 priests at Jagannath Temple are gearing up to prevent her from entering the shrine on Wednesday.

Speaking to News18 over the telephone from Puri, Somanath Khuntia, secretary of Sri Jagannath Sevayat Sammilani said, “Several times we have heard her make statements that there should not be any ban on beef consumption. We also saw her many times offering Namaz at a mosque during Muslim festivals. All these are against the culture of Lord Jagannath. We will not allow her to visit the Jagannath temple at any cost.”

He said, “We don’t want someone to impure our Lord Jagannath Temple. She is openly supporting beef consumption. Last year, she said consumption of beef is not wrong. It shows that she may have tried beef. As per the temple’s rules, such people are not allowed inside the premises. We are going to stage a demonstration and will block the temple’s entry point.”

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On Tuesday morning, Khuntia and his supporters were detained after they raised slogans against Mamata Banerjee. They were released later in the day.

Condemning the protest, Trinamool Congress MP Sukhendu Sekhar Roy said, “The priests in Puri, who are opposing Mamata’s visit, are speaking the language of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. With the current political situation, we can see the country will once again split in the name of religion. This is very unfortunate. I can see a dangerous era in future. It’s time for all of us to think how to deal with the bad forces. This is not the problem of TMC alone, but of people across Bengal."

Mamata is scheduled to arrive at Biju Patnaik International Airport at 8.55 pm on Tuesday. She will go to Puri by road and plans to offer prayer at the temple on Wednesday morning.

During her three-day stay in Bhubaneswar, she will meet jailed Trinamool Congress MPs Sudip Bandyopadhyay and Tapas Pal — both arrested in the Rose Valley Chit Fund Scam.

Insiders said Mamata is trying to explore the possibility of setting up a ‘new front’ to take on BJP in Bengal and neighbouring states like Odisha ahead of the 2019 general elections. She may meet Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to discuss such an alliance.

When asked, Puri Superintendent of Police Sarthak Sarangi said, “We have deployed an adequate number of policemen to prevent any law and order situation near the Jagannath Temple. The West Bengal CM is covered under Z Plus security, and therefore we have made adequate security arrangements.”

Mamata is visiting Jagannath Temple after 47 years, sources told News18.

First Published: April 18, 2017, 8:07 PM IST
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