Puri: The Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) has been dilly-dallying to issue identity cards to Srimandir servitors and employees even though the Supreme Court of India had made a suggestion in this regard around a year ago.
At a time when the 12th century shrine is facing threat from some extremist groups, lack of any identity proof for servitors and temple employees may cause a huge security breach at Srimandir, opined many social activists and intellectuals.
The Apex court had suggested 12 reform measures for Srimandir while dealing with a case pertaining to the shrine last year. The court had suggested the SJTA to issue identity cards to Srimandir servitors and employees as part of the reform proposals.
However, the temple administration has failed to implement the suggestions even though the Shree Jagannath Temple Managing Committee, the apex decision making body for Srimandir, had deliberated on the issue on several occasions.
The temple managing panel had also deliberated on the identity card issue in its meeting July 29. It had decided to issue identity cards to Suar and Mahasuar servitors of Srimandir in the first phase. However, no step has been taken to issue the identity cards, sources said.
It is worth mentioning here that Srimandir has been in the hit list of some terrorist groups for last several years. A team from the elite National Security Guard (NSG) usually inspects security measures at the shrine at least once in a year.
Citing terrorist threat to Srimandir, the Intelligence Bureau has recently sent a communiqué to Odisha Police to enhance security arrangements in and around the shrine, sources added.
The state government has deployed police personnel at the four gates of Srimandir as part of security arrangements at the shrine. The security personnel usually frisk devotees to prevent them from carrying mobile phones, cameras and other electronic gadgets into the temple.
However, the security personnel deployed at the four gates of Srimandir do not frisk servitors and temple employees. As a result, some servitors and shrine employees usually carry mobile phones into Srimandir, said a source.
“The police personnel at the four gates of Srimandir usually identify the servitors and shrine staff by their special attires. But, there is possibility that some unwanted elements may enter into Srimandir in the disguise of servitors or employees. The SJTA and the district administration should take the issue seriously and act accordingly,” said a city-based social activist.
Many intellectuals have also opined that issuance of identity cards to servitors would check incidents of misbehavior with devotees on Srimandir premises. “Issuance of identity cards would enable the shrine authorities to identify the servitors or temple staff accused of harassing devotees on Srimandir premises,” said another social activist.
Srimandir public relations officer Laxmidhar Pujapanda said the SJTA will soon issue identity cards to servitors and temple employees.