A minor girl standing in queue for darshan at the Jagannath Temple in Puri on Saturday has complained that she was molested by a police officer handling the crowd. The incident comes a day after the temple saw tension with thousands of devotees stranded outside as servitors shut the gates and refused to carry out rituals citing high-handedness of the police.
The girl, accompanied by her parents, registered a complaint with the police on Saturday. Puri SP Sarthak Sarangi said strict action will be taken against the accused. Sources said based on the description and CCTV footage, the accused was identified as constable Chhukesh Meher. Meher was deployed from Kalahandi to help manage footfall at the temple, sources said. He is likely to be prosecuted under POCSO Act.
On Thursday, sources said, an argument ensued between a servitor Bhabani Mohapatra and some policemen over allowing entry to some visitors. Mohapatra claimed he was manhandled by the police, and subsequently servitors went on strike Friday seeking an apology. The strike was called off after a 12-hour impasse even as servitors demanded transfer of Puri SP and withdrawal of cases lodged in connection with October 3 protests,” Pradip Mohapatra, head of Shree Jagannath Temple Administration, said.