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Jagannath temple bars entry to visitors after 11 pm

Last updated on: March 20, 2006 10:04 IST

In a bid to further tighten security in the 13th century Sri Jagannath temple in Puri, the administration has banned entry of visitors into the shrine after 11 pm.

"This has been done to enhance the security at the temple in view of terrorist strikes at places of worship elsewhere," Orissa Law Minister Biswabhushan Harichandan said.

A decision to this effect was taken at a high-level meeting chaired by him in Puri Sunday, he said.

Worshippers, who would like to be present in the sanctum sanctorum for the bada shingara besa, the last of the myriad daily rituals in the shrine, would have to enter the temple before 11 at night.

No visitor would be allowed entry after the deadline and those inside would have to leave the temple precincts before the four gates of the shrine are closed for the night, he said.

However, devotees would be allowed into the shrine after 11 pm on the occasion of a few select festivals and specific rituals, but their entry would be strictly regulated, he said.

Closed circuit TVs would be installed at the four gates of the temple and some other vital locations to keep a tab on the crowd inside.

However, it has been decided to allow entry into the temple only through the singha dwar (lion's gate) on the east and the south gate.

The gates on the north and west would be used as exit points. But the rules would not apply to temple sevayats who could use any gate for their entry or exit, the minister said.

Watch towers, the minister said, would be built on four sides of the huge compound wall of the temple, which armed policemen would guard round-the-clock.

Besides, old and dilapidated buildings close to the shrine would come under scrutiny and would be brought down, if unauthorised.

Other encroachments around the shrine would be removed to make the area clean. A few old trees close to the temple wall would also be felled.

As per the ASI guidelines, no structure can be built within a radius of 100 mt of a protected monument. The ASI is in charge of the maintenance and upkeep of the temple.

Harichandan said four points had been identified on the temple wall through which people entered the temple premises, which would be sealed by fixing iron grills.

It had been decided to issue identity cards to non-sevayats engaged in temple work after verification of their antecedents.

The minister said 49 trained security guards would be deployed inside the shrine from April by the temple administration.

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