Puri: The keys of a crucial treasury chamber ‘Ratna Bhandar’ of 12-century Jagannath Temple have reportedly gone missing, sparking an intense speculation if the ancient coffers are under threat. Amid protests by the Shankaracharya of Puri, Swami Nischalananda Saraswati, and the Bharatiya Janata Party, state Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Monday ordered a judicial probe into the matter.
At a meeting of the Sri Jagannath Temple Managing Committee on April 4, it was recorded that the keys of the inner chambers of the Ratna Bhandar had gone missing, a member of the committee, Ramchandra Das Mahapatra, said on Sunday.
It was on April 4 that a 16-member team entered the ‘Ratna Bhandar’ after 34 years and had a quick scrutiny of its physical conditions amid tight security following an order of the Orissa HC.
The members of the inspection team did not need to enter the inner chamber as the chambers were visible from outside through an iron grill, an official of the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration had said after the inspection.
It now appears that the team members did not enter the inner chambers and saw its condition from outside with the help of search lights as the keys were not available.
Of the seven chambers of the Ratna Bhandar, the first two are outer chambers which were used from time to time, and the others are called inner chambers.
Neither the temple administration nor the Puri district treasury has the key of the inner treasury, Das Mahapatra confirmed.
Both the Shankaracharya of Puri and the BJP have sought a clarification from Odisha Chief Minister on the issue.
“The chief minister should give a clarification on how the key of the temple’s inner treasury went missing and who is responsible for it,” state BJP spokesman Pitambar Acharya told reporters.
Activists of outfits such as the Jagannath Sena and the Sachetana Nagarik Manch demonstrated near the Shree Jagannath temple in Puri.