PURI: At least seven Bol Bom devotees were seriously injured when police resorted to lathi-charge at the Loknath temple in Puri on Monday.The temple witnessed a huge rush of devotees on Monday. When one of them, Balaram Patra of Balasore, was about to pour water on the Shiva Linga, a servitor inside the sanctum sanctorum demanded `100 from him. Since Patra had bought a trust board ticket that allows him to perform the ritual inside the temple, he refused to pay heed to the servitor’s demand.
This led to an altercation between the devotee and the servitor and the latter hit Patra with a metal pot on his head. Patra fell unconscious. Other devotees urged the police personnel present at the spot to take action against the servitor. When police did not nab the servitor, the Bol Bom devotees sat on a dharna for several hours in front of the police aid post in the temple.As senior police officials of the aid post refused to take any action, the angry devotees threw coconuts at them and ransacked the aid post. Police retaliated with lathi charge and drove all the devotees out of the temple premises. An inspector and a driver sustained injuries in the melee.
Subsequently, police registered cases against some of the devotees and detained them. District Magistrate Arabind Agarwal and SP Sarthak Sarangi rushed to Loknath temple and pacified the irate devotees. Sources said at least 40,000 people had arrived in the temple to pour water on the Shiva Linga.
Sub-Collector Madhusudan Das, who is the chief of Loknath temple trust, said every devotee had to buy a `20 ticket for pouring water on the deity and of this amount, a major part goes to the servitors’ fund and the remaining is saved in the trust board account. No servitor was authorised to demand money from the devotees, he said, adding that police have been directed to nab the accused servitor who demanded money and assaulted Patra.Locals have condemned the incident and inaction of police present in the temple.