SC appointed Amicus Curiae gives nod to demolition of ‘mutts’ near Jagannath Temple
Kumar, appointed as Amicus Curiae in the case of Mrinalini Padhi vs. Union of India over reforms in the Jagannath Temple, said he was satisfied with the action on converting Puri into a World Heritage city.Updated: Sep 07, 2019 17:00 IST
Even as the protests against the demolition drive around the 75 metre perimetre of the 12th century Jagannath Temple raged on, the Supreme Court-appointed Amicus Curiae Ranjit Kumar on Saturday supported it saying the demolitions would not affect people in any way.
Kumar, appointed as Amicus Curiae in the case of Mrinalini Padhi vs. Union of India over reforms in the Jagannath Temple, said he was satisfied with the action on converting Puri into a World Heritage city.
“We came here on orders of the Supreme Court to verify whether the state government’s decision of converting World Heritage City Puri into a Pilgrimage City is being done appropriately or not. An eviction drive was initiated only after a negotiation with the locals. The administration has not demolished any building forcibly. We found that this is being undertaken after proper negotiation with all. The government’s future projection is valid and I don’t think this eviction should be stopped in any case,” he said.
Kumar said the expansion of the road around the Jagannath Temple was necessary for the smooth organization of the Nagarjuna Besa next year that will take place after a gap of 25 years.
Accompanied by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, the Amicus Curiae earlier this morning offered prayers at the temple and then held discussions with Puri king Gajapati Dibyasingha Deb as well as the temple and district administration.
For the last 10 days, several seers of the temple town who are in-charge of several ancient Mutts (Hindu monasteries) as well as opposition politicians are enraged over the demolition of two ancient Mutts that take part in daily rituals of the temple. While the seers earlier this week wrote an open letter to the Supreme Court Chief Justice seeking a stay on the “unjustified destruction of heritage structures”, BJP leader Bijoy Mohapatra said “Srikhetra”, as Puri is called popularly, has turned into a “Kurukshetra”.
Even former BJD MP Tathagat Satpathy criticized the move saying nobody has any right to demolish the historic structures of the state.
The ruling Biju Janata Dal yesterday defended the demolition of Mutts and other structures citing terrorist attacks on the Akshardham Temple in Gujarat and Raghunath Temple in Jammu in 2002. “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.