The district administration faced a setback in its bid to demolish the 14th-Century Bada Akhada Mutt on Tuesday due to protests staged by saints and disciples.
The administration was forced to postpone the demolition move sine die as hundred of Sadhus and saints of all mutts and monasteries in the city didn’t allow the bulldozers to touch buildings. Many saints and disciples of other States also joined the protest.
Members of the Nikhila Bharatiya Sadhu Samaj too joined the protest, terming the move as “autocratic” and “unilateral”.
Besides, civil society members led by local BJP MLA Jayant Kumar Sarangi held a meeting in the Town Hall against the Government’s decision.
The protest was also supported by Jatni Congress MLA Suresh Kumar Routray.
Amidst incessant rains in the morning, as per prior schedule, executive magistrates along with 30 platoons of armed forces and bulldozers reached the venue for demolition. However, the insiders of the Bada Akhada Mutt led by Mahant (abbot) Harinarayan Das Maharaj and Sadhus of other mutts opposed
Hundred of saints present atop the roof of the mutt didn’t allow the bulldozers to come near the building.
Seeing the logjam till 4 pm, district Collector Balwant Singh convened a meeting of all Mahants, including Harinarayan Das Maharaj, and tried to convince them about the Puri beautification drive. But the Mahants unanimously opposed it.
“We had a cordial meeting with the Collector. It was decided that the administration would hold a further discussion with all Mahants and local people who are losing their lands,” said Das Maharaj.
Das wanted to know how the administration allowed a police station, a revenue office and a fire station to operate for many years on the first floor of the mutt if the building was unsafe. Sources said the demolition of scheduled structures would resume only after the district administration reaches a consensus with the Mahants and local people.