Citing Akshardham attack of 2002, Biju Janata Dal defends demolition around Jagannath temple
The ruling Biju Janata Dal has responded to criticism of Naveen Patnaik government’s move to demolish Mutts and other structures around the 12th century Jagannath temple by citing the threat of terrorism.
The BJD posted video clips of the terrorist attacks on Akshardham temple in Gujarat and Raghunath temple in Jammu in 2002 and said terrorism has no religion. “There are several instances of attacks on places of worship in the country. So we need to be careful of the security of Jagannath temple and lakhs of devotees,” BJD tweeted.
The party hailed the demolition drive that generated political heat as a “bold and laudable one,” for crafting a better security infrastructure around the Jagannath temple.
The tweets came a couple of days after several seers of the temple town who are in-charge of several ancient Mutts (Hindu monasteries) wrote an open letter to the Supreme Court chief justice seeking a stay on the razing which they said was “unjustified destruction of heritage structures”.
The demolition of two ancient Hindu monasteries and commercial structures within 75 metre perimetre of the 12th century Jagannath temple was done on the recommendation of Justice BP Das committee but it raised the hackles of political parties and seers like Shankaracharya of Puri Govardhanpeeth and Swami Nischalananda Saraswati.
Saraswati had called the BP Das committee illegal and accused the district administration of trying to turn places of religious significance into tourism spots.
Other seers of Puri alleged that they were being forced by the district administration to consent to demolition of mutts of immense significance. “The mutts are heritage structures set up by great acharyas like Ramanujacharya, Nimbark Acharya, Madhwa Acharya, Dasanami, Ramananda Acharya, Bishnu Swami and Ballabhacharya. They have both material and spiritual significance,” they said.
Opposition BJP and Congress too have criticised the demolition in strong words. BJP leader Bijoy Mohapatra said “Srikhetra”, as Puri is called popularly, has turned into a “Kurukshetra” (a battlefield) while Congress leader Suresh Routray said the curse of the Mutts would ruin the BJD government.