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Ratna Bhandar key row: Inquiry panel begins probe


Puri, July 30, 2018: Justice Raghubir Das Commission, formed to probe into the loss of keys of Jagannath temple’s inner treasury also known as Ratna Bhandar, on Monday held its first meeting at the Circuit House here.

After reaching in Puri, he first visited Shree Mandir to have a darshan of the sibling deities. Temple authorities escorted Justice Das to the 12th century shrine.

Later, he headed for the Circuit House where Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) Chief Administrator PK Mohapatra, Puri Collector Arvind Agarwal and SP Sarthak Sarangi briefed the Commission about the incident.

Meanwhile, the last date of the submission of affidavits had ended on July 25. The Commission had sought information from people having knowledge of any facts about the incident or those who wish to assist the commission should submit their statements, along with documentary evidence in the form of affidavits.

The Inquiry Commission was formed on June 4 by the State Government to probe sequence of events and circumstances leading to the reported non-availability of the keys of the inner chamber of the Ratna Bhandar, the role, conduct and accountability of individuals/groups/authorities and any other matter connected with or incidental thereto as the Commission may consider appropriate, including measures to be taken to avoid recurrence of such event in future.

If required the tenure of the tenure panel would be extended.

The disappearance of the keys was revealed in April, had triggered outrage in the State. Even as the whereabouts of the original key was still a mystery, the Puri district administration claimed to have recovered a set of duplicate keys inside an envelope from the district record room thereby putting a question mark on proper management of treasure trove.

Notably, the revelation regarding disappearance of the keys of the inner chamber of the Ratna Bhandar was made by Puri Collector Arvind Agarwal after an expert team led by the then SJTA Chief Administrator PK Jena abstained from opening the secret chamber during maintenance inspection as per the direction of Orissa High Court.

The treasury has two chambers-inner and outer. While the keys of the outer chamber are intact the keys of inner chamber are missing.

As per provisions in the Shree Jagannath Temple Act, the keys of the Bhitar Ratna Bhandar are kept at the Puri district treasury.

No one knows the exact amount of gold and other ornaments stashed away in the bhitar bhandar.

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