Puri police on Tuesday began probe into the alleged assault on noted Italy-born Odissi dancer Ileana Citaristi by servitors. A two-member team from Singhadwar police station in Puri met the Odissi exponent at her residence here and recorded her statement over the incident. The dancer had on Sunday accused servitors of assaulting her atop Lord Jagannath’s chariot at Puri.
Ileana was allegedly beaten up by some uncouth servitors for refusing to pay Rs 1,000 as dakshina (offering), demanded by them for allowing her to offer prayers on the chariot.
In her complaint to the temple chief administrator Arvind Padhee, she has alleged that one Krushna Chandra Das Mohapatra and some other servitors beat her up on Sunday after she refused them the money. “Police came here to verify the facts mentioned in the FIR and recorded my statement. It seems there are two to three servitors by the same name and the investigating officer will now have to find out who the actual person was,” Ileana said.
More than the arrest of the accused servitors, the dancer said, the temple administration should train them for being people-friendly and improve security on the chariots as well. “There are stringent security measures around the chariots during Rath Yatra, but what about the situation atop the chariots?” she questioned. “Since there are no cops and CCTVs inside the chariots, these servitors get a chance to trouble and even assault devotees and easily get away with it. This needs to be addressed on a priority basis so that no servitor gets a chance to trouble devotees.
Besides, they should be trained to behave properly with devotees at least for the sake of Lord Jagannath,” she said, adding that such kind of unsavoury incidents only tarnish the image of Jagannath culture.
On the other hand, even as the Daitapati Nijoga had maintained that they would try to solve the case amicably, none from the Nijoga has approached the dancer with an apology till now.
In another development, the temple administration has issued show cause notices on two servitors of Daitapati Nijoga for ‘indiscipline’ and delay in rituals of Bahuda Yatra. Nijoga president Ramakrushana Das Mohapatra and secretary Premananda Das Mohapatra have been asked by the temple administration to submit their replies within seven days.