Cops-servitors scuffle at Srimandir, rituals delayed

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Puri: Tension prevailed at the Puri Srimandir on Friday following the clash between a servitor and police over the entry of two devotees last evening.

As per sources, talks between servitors and Puri administration to resolve the issue could not reach consensus causing the delay in rituals and displeasure of devotees, said the Puri Collector Jyoti Prakash Das.

Das also added that stringent action will be taken against the persons responsible behind the incident following a detailed probe.

SJTA chief administrator Pradipta Mohapatra also stated that he had initiated a discussion with the servitors to pacify the situation but eventually the rituals of the deities depend on the conscience and decision of servitors.

According to available information, gates of the temple have remained closed triggering displeasure among devotees. Meanwhile, the devotees also barged into the temple by breaking the barricades. On the other hand, the servitor’s body’s agitation is still on.

As per sources, a verbal duel ensued between a senior servitor Bhabani Mohapatra and a policeman deployed at the Singhadwar over the entry of two devotees. The devotees were asked to produce identity cards for entry into the temple. As the devotees were not carrying any identity card, they gave reference of Mohapatra.

Soon after that Mohapatra reached the spot and urged the cops to let the devotees in. However, assuming them to be foreigners, the officials insisted for identity proof. Later the argument turned ugly when the cop injured the servitor in the fight.

Mohapatra lodged a complaint at Singhadwara police station that he was misbehaved by a policeman and later manhandled by some other police personnel during the scuffle.

Refuting the charges, the police personnel have lodged a counter case alleging the servitor of manhandling them.

A probe into the incident is underway and a detailed investigation will be carried out on the basis of CCTV footages, officials said.

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