A day after “duplicate” keys to the inner chambers of Odisha’s Shree Jagannath Temple’s Ratna Bhandara were “discovered” from the Puri Collectorate, the BJP targeted District Collector Arvind Agarwal, claiming laws associated with the temple did not have any provision for maintaining duplicate keys to the ‘room of jewels’.
“Where did these keys come from? Why were the keys recovered from the Record Room of the Puri Collectorate?” asked former law minister and BJP leader Biswabhushan Harichandan.
Former Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) members told The Indian Express that the original keys to the Bhandara, which are missing, were supposed to be stored in the Treasury Office of the Collectorate and there was no provision for duplicate keys.
BJP spokesperson Pitambar Acharya also criticised newly appointed Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) chief Pradipta Mohapatra.
“As soon he (Mohapatra) joined, the ‘duplicate’ keys were discovered,” Acharya said.
A controversy erupted earlier this month when a member of the SJTA informed the media that the keys to the inner Ratna Bhandara were missing. The keys were reported missing to the temple administration committee since April, when it was conducting a structural inspection of the temple with the Archaeological Survey of India.
The issue took a fresh turn after the district administration on Wednesday announced discovery of the duplicate keys to the Bhandara rooms.
Agrawal claimed that two teams of the department had searched the Collectorate premises after the “SJTA sent a letter on May 24, stating the keys were with the Puri Collectorate”.
“One of the teams recovered a sealed envelope containing (the) keys. The envelope was labeled as ‘Duplicate Keys of Inner Bhandara’,” Agrawal said.
Law Minister Pratap Jena, whose department oversees the SJTA, claimed ignorance on the authenticity of the duplicate keys.
Meanwhile, the state government on Thursday published the parameters of inquiry for the Raghubir Das-led judicial commission investigating into the case of missing keys.