Puri: The ongoing eviction drive around the Jagannath Temple in Puri ran into rough weather once again Saturday, with Govardhan Peeth Shankaracharya Swami Nischalananda Saraswati declaring the recommendations of Justice B P Das commission ‘illegal’.
Based on the recommendations of the commission, the Odisha government and the Puri district administration have launched an eviction drive a week ago in the area surrounding the temple and all structures within 75 metres of its boundary wall are being cleared.
“According to the special power vested on the Shankaracharya, I declare the recommendation of the Das commission illegal,” the seer told reporters at Govardhan Peeth in Puri.
The seer expressed displeasure that he was not consulted by the judicial panel before submitting its report on temple reforms to the state government, which had accepted the recommendations. He also did not approve the function of the Supreme Court-appointed amicus curiae on the reforms in the 12th-century shrine.
“Which administration had prevented the judicial panel and the amicus curiae to consult the Shankaracharya?” he asked. “There should be a committee to probe as to why they ignored the Shankaracharya’s view on the reforms.”
The seer said the Shankaracharya should be consulted on religious and spiritual matters. “How can the Chief Minister, law minister or administrators take decision on religious and spiritual mater?” he asked.
Underlining that Puri is first a spiritual place and then a place for tourism, he suggested the state government to undertake reforms in the holy town and temple from the religious and spiritual point of view and not for the ‘comfort and luxury’ of the tourists visiting the place.
The Shankaracharya said the monasteries linked with the rituals of the shrine should not be demolished without any reason. “Willful demolition of monasteries is just an attack on the religion and traditions,” the seer said.
The Puri district administration ran into bad weather for the first time on Friday when the 900-year-old Emar Mutt’s (monastery) head monk, Rajgopal Ramanuja Das, refused to vacate the building for demolition.
Several attempts of the officials to convince the monastery chief to vacate the place has failed to yield any result till Saturday.
The mutt head is still sitting inside the building, while other structures of the monastery are being bulldozed. The monk has alleged that the administration snapped the building’s power supply.
“I will not vacate the place as the government has earlier assured me that it would not demolish the main seat where the deities are worshipped and my living place monastery,” he said, refusing to shift to a container house provided by the administration for living close to the monastery’s seat of worship.
Around 30 platoons of police force along with magistrates are deployed on the spot.