INDIA, June 6, 2018 (Swarajyamag): A judicial probe ordered by Odisha Chief Minister (CM) Naveen Patnaik into the mysterious case of keys to the inner chambers of Puri Jagannath Temple’s ratna bhandar going missing has failed to put a lid on a raging controversy over the temple’s treasures. Amidst growing rumors of, and public unrest over, the missing jewels and ornaments from the temple’s treasury, the opposition BJP has demanded a comprehensive audit of all items in the ratna bhandar. Puri Shankarancharya Swami Nischalananda Saraswati too has demanded a thorough review of the temple treasury’s management. The controversy has arisen because the judicial probe was ordered by Patnaik a full two months after it was discovered that the keys to the inner chambers of the twelfth century temple were missing. The keys are kept at the district treasury, and the loss of the keys was discovered only when Puri district magistrate Aravind Agarwal was to have taken them along with him for a Odisha High Court-mandated inspection of the ratna bhandar on 4 April. That day, the treasury was opened for the first time after 34 years.
Senior BJP leader Bijoy Mohapatra said it was surprising that it took two months for the CM to order an enquiry into the case of the missing keys. A through audit of the treasury needs to be conducted in the presence of the Gajapati Maharaja of Puri and the Shankaracharya in view of the situation, Mohapatra added. The last audit of the ratna bhandar’s treasure was carried out in 1978 had listed gold ornaments weighing 282 lbs, besides precious stones, jewels and silver ornaments and items.