The division bench of Justice Pradeep Mohanty and Justice Indrajit Mohanty on Thursday asked the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), custodian of the 12th century shrine, to complete the demolition work within three months.
“We did not want to wait for three months as the safety of Jagannath temple was our top priority,” Puri collector Arvind Agarwal told TOI. “The demolition process would continue on Saturday as well. The ASI engineers were asked to remove the mutt’s structures without harming the temple,” Agarwal said.
Armed cops were deployed to avoid any untoward incident in view of opposition from certain quarters, mostly by Bhubaneswar-based mutts, against the demolition. “There was no protest during the demolition,” the collector said. “We will keep three metres gap between the boundary walls of the mutt and temple,” an ASI engineer said.
Mutt’s seer (mahant) Raghuveer Das, who had earlier challenged the demolition move in the High Court, said: “I cooperated with the district administration. I respect the court order.” Meanwhile, all eyes are on the proposed verdict on Badachhata mutt, also in the line of fire for jeopardizing the Jagannath temple’s entrance. The high court is slated to conduct hearing into the Bdachhata mutt’s role in May.
The two mutts had moved the high court challenging the Puri administration’s contention that their structures were a threat to the temple. The ASI had issued demolition notices to the Mutts in 2004. But the religious institutions had then managed to get stay orders from court.
Photo: Ranjan Ganguly
Source : Times Syndication Service
The matter, relating to safety of the shrine structure, resurfaced after the temple’s technical committee recently noticed some weak portions of Lion’s Gate and suggested immediate demolition of the two religious institutions.