Cops detain priests for Puri temple theft




Police on Sunday detained two priests on suspicion of their involvement in the theft of silver earrings from the Bata Ganesh shrine on the Jagannath temple premises in Puri.

The pair of earrings, weighing around 250 grams, was found missing when the priests of the shrine opened the gate around 5.55 am on Saturday, raising the alarm of theft at the high security zone of 12th century shrine. The miscreants, however, spared other ornaments of Lord Ganesh. The lock of the temple was intact.

Published In: The Times Of Inda, Bhubaneswar

“We have detained two persons, who looked after the temple at the absence of the in-charge priests of the temple. We are questioning them. However, we are yet to get any vital clue on the matter,” said inspector-in-charge of Singhadwar police station S K Swain.

Since the lock was not broken, police suspect the “thief or thieves” could have used a duplicate key to execute the crime. “This angle cannot be ruled out. We are interrogating the suspects,” Swain said.

Controversy surrounded the complaint lodged by Madhab Panda, one of the two in-charge priests of Bata Ganesh temple, at the police station. While Madhab mentioned in the FIR that he had closed the gate around 10.55 pm on Friday and opened it around 5.55 am the next day, police said the FIR was wrong.

“It was not Madhab but his father, Bhagaban Panda, who had closed and opened the door of the Ganesh temple. Perhaps Madhab was trying to shield his father and provided false information in the FIR,” Swain said.

Under fire for the alleged chink in the security system at the temple, Orissa DGP Manmohan Praharaj said policing would get a fillip once the high frequency close circuit television cameras (CCTV) were installed at strategic locations in and outside the temple.

As of now, only six CCTV cameras function at the temple. Some police officers and priests alleged the CCTV cameras, which were installed in 2007, are of poor quality.

“The new CCTV cameras would be installed soon. We seek better cooperation from priests to conduct proper frisking at the entrance points of the temple,” Praharaj said.

The DGP said patrolling, especially during night time inside the temple would be further intensified. Patrolling had come under scanner when two pilgrims allegedly committed suicide inside the shrine precinct last year.

Penetrating the tight security cordon, Saria Das had hung herself to death in an abandoned room at Koili Baikuntha (park of Jagannath temple) on May 26, 2009. Police had recovered the body of a 30-year-old man, Tapan Pandam from a well inside the temple on July 13, 2009. A radio operator working at 120 BSF battalion in Mizoram had attempted suicide inside the temple on October 4, 2009. One Nalinikant Mohapatra (43) of Birabalabhadrapur village near Puri also attempted to commit suicide by slitting his throat in June last year.

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