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Monks Near Puri Jagannath Temple Write to CJI Seeking his Intervention on Eviction Drive

File photo of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi with his wife Rupanjali Gogoi. (PTI)

File photo of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi with his wife Rupanjali Gogoi. (PTI)

The monks' letter to the CJI comes two-days before the proposed visit of the Apex Court's Amicus Curiae and Solicitor General on September 6.

Puri: With Odisha government determined to go ahead with its eviction drive in the area located within 75-metres of the Jagannath temple boundary wall here, the monks and mutt heads on Wednesday sought the intervention of the Chief Justice of India.

"We request you to put an end to this unjustified and uncalled for destruction of heritage structures by giving a stay order and to ensure that a thorough hearing occurs on this matter," a letter signed by heads of 13 mutts (monasteries) said.

The monks' letter to the CJI comes two-days before the proposed visit of the Apex Court's Amicus Curiae and Solicitor General on September 6.

The letter claimed that these mutts are centuries old and great acharyas like Ramanujacharya, Nimbark Acharya, Madhwa Acharya, Sri Chandra (Udasin), Dasanami, Ramanda Acharya, Bishnu swami and Guru Nanak established these mutts. They have both material and spiritual significance.

Instead of protecting such heritage structures and promoting them as part of temple ecosystem, the state government is destroying the mutts, the letter alleged.

"We the mahants (monasteries chiefs), have certainly not given consent for destruction/ demolition of our mathas (mutts). We are being forced by district administration to consent to demolition now," the letter said adding that the Apex Court had asked the Amicus Curiae and SG to visit Puri and file a report on status.

Meanwhile, Puri district collector Balwant Singh on Wednesday rejected a proposal from a local delegation to stop eviction drive. "It is wrong to call it demolition activity. The administration has been pulling down unsafe structures and doing everything possible to secure the Sri Jagannath Temple. The eviction drive within 75 metres from the temple boundary wall will continue," Singh told reporters after the meeting.

The collector said that the main seat of mutts (monasteries) where the deities are installed will remain intact. But, all other structures including business establishments located in the mutt premises will be evicted, he said.

Damodor Pradhani, a member of the delegation said: "The district collector has rejected our proposal to stop demolition of structures. We will take up the matter with the Chief Minister."

A resentment is brewing in the holy town after the district administration pulled down 300-year-old Nanguli mutt and 900-year-old Emar mutt located within 75 metre from the temple boundary wall.

However, the district administration on Tuesday halted the eviction of Bada Akhada mutt after strong opposition from monks and inmates.

Meanwhile, senior BJP leader Bijay Mohapatra at a press conference in Bhubaneswar, criticised the state government's act of demolishing ancient mutts in Puri.

"In last seven days, the state government has turned Puri town into a battlefield by deploying 50 platoons of police force and 22 bulldozers for demolition of century-old mutts ...," Mohapatra said.

The BJP leader also criticised the state government for winding up the Justice B P Das Commission before the panel submitted its final report on reforms.

first published:September 04, 2019, 23:25 IST