**Puri:** Acting tough on the unruly behaviour of sebayats (temple servitors), the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) on Tuesday suspended nine temple servitors.
This was informed by SJTA chief administrator Suresh Chandra Mahapatra to media on the day.
“As per the Section 21-B clauses A & C of the Shree Jagannath Temple Act 1954, nine sebayats have been suspended pending drawal of disciplinary proceedings. Immediately draft charges will be framed against them and served and accordingly, disciplinary actions will be taken,” the SJTA chief informed.
In another major development of the day, the six sebayats, arrested and forwarded to court by the Singhadwara Police accused of attacking media persons as well as the Collector during the ‘Niladri Bije’ (return of Lords to temple’s sanctum sanctorum) on Sunday evening, have been remanded to jail custody.
While one accused servitor was arrested on Monday morning, the others were absconding.
They were later arrested in the same evening.
The all six arrested were forwarded to the SDJM court on Tuesday where the court rejected their bail petitions and remanded them to its judicial custody.
The irate journalists had filed an FIR on Sunday evening.
They had even staged a stir before the SP office here on Monday demanding arrest of all the culprits.
Besides the manhandled journalists whose cameras were also damaged, the Puri Collector has even filed an FIR against the unruly sebayats alleging attempt to murder.
Despite the ban on climbing atop the chariots, four female members of the sevitors’ families, including three minors, climbed yet again on the chariots of Lord Balabhadra and Lord Jagannath during ‘Niladri Bije’.
It delayed the ‘Pahandi’ (ceremonial procession) of the deities to the temple.
The whole furore started when a servitor, Damodar Mahasuara (chief cook), was spotted taking his daughter to the chariot and was stopped by District Collector Arvind Agarwal warning to arrest him if he dared to take the girl atop the chariot. But, Damodar retaliated strongly saying it was the right of the families of the servitors to climb atop and no one can challenge them, not even the administration.
Commotion ensued, delaying the ritual of ‘Niladri Bije’, but the servitors had taken their stand against the administration, showing clearly the mis-coordination between the sebayats and the district administration.
As some journalists approached the servitors regarding this issue, they were manhandled in front of the cameras making it go live all over the world. The cameras of some media persons were also damaged in the presence of police and administrative officials.