Amid Missing Keys Row, Puri Jagannath Temple Administrator Replaced

The change of guard in the administration of the 12th century shrine comes in the midst of a state-wide outcry over the missing keys of the inner chamber of the Ratna Bhandar of the Jagannath Temple in Puri.

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Amid Missing Keys Row, Puri Jagannath Temple Administrator Replaced

P K Mohapatra has been given charge of chief administrator (File)

Bhubaneswar:  The Odisha government today replaced Chief Administrator of the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) Pradeep Kumar Jena with P K Mohapatra, barely a month before the annual Rath Yatra, an official said.

The change of guard in the administration of the 12th century shrine comes in the midst of a state-wide outcry over the missing keys of the inner chamber of the Ratna Bhandar of the Jagannath Temple in Puri.

Mr Mohapatra, an IAS officer who is principal secretary in the school and mass education department, has been given additional charge of chief administrator SJTA, an official in the Chief Minister's office said.

Mr Jena, also an IAS officer, had been the chief administrator of the SJTA for over two years.

Mr Mohapatra has been entrusted with the additional responsibility ahead of the annual Rath Yatra of lord Jagannath scheduled to be held on July 14.

Earlier in the day, Mr Jena held a meeting of the servitors in connection with the Supreme Court's ruling to prevent exploitation of devotees by staff at the temple.

The servitors of the shrine may file an application before the Puri district judge if they have anything to say regarding the Supreme Court's directions on June 8 to the temple management, Mr Jena said after the meeting.

In its order, the apex court asked the Puri district judge to file an interim report by June 30 on the factual aspects such as difficulties faced by the devotees, exploitative practices and deficiencies in the management, if any.

Puri district judge Ambuj Mohan Das, Collector Aravind Agarwal and SP Sarthak Sadangi also attended the meeting.

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"Though the servitors knew about the SC direction, today we in presence of the district judge officially informed them details of the order," Mr Jena said.

"We have also requested the servitors to abide by the Supreme Court's directives and asked them to cooperate with the administration," he said.

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