BHUBANESWAR:Criticising the manner in which the statue of Utkalmani Pandit Gopabandhu Das was shifted from near the Jagannath Temple at Puri, the Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) on Sunday demanded that it should reinstalled with honour.
The shifting of the statue of the Utkalmani was insulting and a sad incident for the people of Odisha, OPCC president Prasad Harichandan said.
Alleging that Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has tried to distort history by allowing the shifting of the statue, Harichandan said that the statue was part of cultural heritage of the State and people of Odisha are emotionally attached to it.
The statue was installed in front of the Lion’s Gate of the Jagannath Temple by Mahatma Gandhi on May 8, 1934. Many Nabakalebara and car festivals have been conducted smoothly with the statue in front of the Lion’s Gate, he said and added that this has never come in the way of traffic management or vehicle movement.
The OPCC president said that if the administration wanted to shift the statue because of the crowd expected for the Nabakalebara this time, a place should have been identified to shift the statue with honour, he said. But the statue was shifted like an encroached shop, he said and criticised the Chief Minister for the mismanagement of the entire matter.
Harichandan said that shifting of heritage installations are done as per law. The State Government flouted law by not selecting a place beforehand for shifting of the statue, he added. The Congress president alleged that the statue of Utkalmani has been shifted while the district administration turned a blind eye to the presence of other statues which have obstructed roads.
In a letter to the Chief Minister, State unit president of Samajwadi Party Rabi Behera also demanded that the statue of Pandit Gopabandhu should be re-installed at a proper place with honour.