Bhubaneswar: The Odisha police on Thursday said that "some people" had breached the security cordon during President Ram Nath Kovind's visit to the Puri Jagannath Temple with his wife on March 18.
The statement by Puri Superintendent of Police Sarthak Sarangi comes a day after the state government denied receipt of any letter from the Rashtrapati Bhavan regarding the alleged misconduct of servitors in the 12th-century shrine.
A section of the media had reported that the Rashtrapati Bhavan wrote to the temple administration, alleging inappropriate behaviour by servitors outside the sanctum sanctorum of the temple
Sarangi said the district collector of Puri, ahead of the President's visit, was asked to ensure that no servitor goes close to the First couple or requests them to sign on any book during their visit to the temple.
"Though the temple administration had informed the servitors about the instruction, some people tried to go close to the President by breaching the security cordon. We had submitted a report to the temple administration in this connection," Sarangi said.
However, the minutes of the temple management committee's March 20 meeting, which had been in circulation on social media, mentioned that the Rashtrapati Bhavan expressed displeasure over the conduct of servitors.
It also said some servitors allegedly milled around Savita Kovind, while she was offering prayers inside the temple's sanctum sanctorum, leading to occasional jostling.
Sources in the temple administration, in their defence, said the March 20 meeting might have discussed the matter, based on a police report, which suggested that the security cordon was breached during the First couple's visit.
The president of the Suar-Mahasuar Nijog (servitors' organisation), Damodar Mahasuar, on Thursday lodged a complaint at the Singhadwara police station against Puri Collector Arvind Agarwal and former Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) chief Pradeep Jena, accusing them of trying to defame the servitors of the temple.
Binayak Dasmohapatra, the assistant secretary of another servitors' body, said, "If such an incident had taken place, the police should have arrested the servitors immediately."
The temple administration is trying to malign the entire servitor community, he alleged.
"Why did the temple administration and the police did not take action? Why did the temple administration not make the incident public after the meeting on March 20?" Dasmohapatra asked....