Congress Slams Odisha Govt Over SJTA Move To Bar Elderly Devotees From Visiting Puri Jagannath Temple; Terms It Illegal
Bhubaneswar: A day after Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) advised old and sick people to refrain from visiting the shrine at Puri in view of heavy rush, Congress on Tuesday hit out at the Odisha government and termed the move illegal.
Coming down heavily on the state government over the issue, senior Congress leader Prasad Harichandan told reporters that Indian Constitution guarantees people to practise their religious beliefs.
Restricting people from visiting the 12th century shrine is against the constitution and illegal, he said by restricting elderly and sick people from visiting the temple, the government has not only put a high barrier between the devotees and the Lords, but has gone against the law.
Stating that a large number of old and sick people visit Jagannath temple during the holy month of Kartik to offer prayers at the shrine and seek the blessings of the Lord, the senior Congress leader said it is unfair and illegal to ask them to refrain from visiting the shrine now.
The Congress leader’s reaction came a day after SJTA chief administrator Ranjan Kumar Dash made an appeal to the people on Monday, saying that elderly and sick devotees should not visit the temple for darshan now considering heavy rush.
“Considering the rush, we appeal to the devotees to postpone their visit to the temple to avoid the rush now. They can have hassle-free darshan of the deities once the rush subsides after Kartik month. It is advisable for the old, inform and sick people not to stand in the queue to strain themselves,” he had said.
Notably, many devotees were found standing in queues for hours on Monday. Many of them complained about a lack of proper facilities, while some of them fell sick. A woman devotee fainted and an elderly woman was seen crying for help.