Puri: A day after watching the Hockey World Cup quarterfinal match between India and Netherlands at Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar, 30 Maoists, who have laid down arms and returned to the mainstream recently, Friday visited the Srimandir and paid obeisance to Lord Jagannath.
The former Ultras, 16 women and 14 men from Koraput and Malkangiri districts, visited the 12th century shrine as part of an exposure trip sponsored by the state government.
The group reached a police outpost near Srimandir under tight security in the afternoon and entered the shrine in a queue.
According to sources in the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA), they visited several subsidiary temples on Srimandir premises after paying obeisance to the presiding deities.
“The group spent quite a few minutes at Baishi Pahacha (22 steps) before leaving the shrine. Many of them were seen prostrating before the Lord,” said an SJTA source.
The group later relished Mahaprasad at Abakash Bhawan near Saradhabali. “Yesterday, we watched a hockey match with the Chief Minister. Today, we visited Srimandir and had darshan of Lord Jagannath. We were roaming in deep forests. I had never dreamt of visiting Bhubaneswar and Puri in my life,” said Rama Madkami who joined the Maoist cadre in 2012 and surrendered to police in 2015.
Bijaya Madkami, too expressed her pleasure and thanked the Malkangiri district superintendent of police for arranging the exposure trip. “The Chief Minister has a lot of affection for us which is why he brought us to watch the hockey match,” she said.
Former Maoist Mukesh claimed that he repented of his past and took a pledge before Lord Jagannath to live a peaceful life. “Circumstances had forced us to take up weapons. We were moving here and there in forests. But, all these things are past now,” he said.
The group also visited the Sun Temple at Konark.