PURI: The district administration on Monday sealed Punjabi Mutt, situated on the south of Sri Jagannath Temple here.The mutt is next in line for demolition as it is located within 75 metre of the security and heritage corridor, proposed to be constructed around Meghnad Prachir. A team of police personnel along with a magistrate reached the mutt on the day and asked the families residing in it to vacate the premises. After electricity supply was disconnected, the families reluctantly obliged.
Locals claimed the mutt had become a den of drug addicts and peddlers. It became evident as police personnel found a large number of empty drug bottles strewn across the mutt’s premises. Later,the mutt was sealed in the presence of the magistrate.
The Punjabi Mutt was established by famous Punjabi saint Raghavendra Das, popularly known as Agraji Maharaj in 1526 AD. It belonged to the Nihang sect of Punjab and was later assimilated into Ramanandi sect of Vaishnavas. The monastery, earlier known as Punjabi Baba Mutt, catered to the needs of pilgrims from Punjab.
Raghunathjew, Hanuman and Lord Jagannath were worshipped in a small temple located in the mutt complex. Over 100 rooms having basic amenities were constructed in the mutt to accommodate pilgrims who came to Puri for darshan of the Trinity.
Odia saints succeeded the mutt’s founder and became its mahants. The present mahant Balaram Das of Polasara, Ganjam took over in 2006. Later, a primary and high school were set up by the mutt in Ganjam district.
However, after enforcement of Estate Abolition Act, Endowment Act and Sri Jagannath Temple Act, the mutt lost its financial powers and almost all its property was recorded in favour of the managing body of Sri Jagannath Temple.
The mutt’s source of income from agriculture land across Puri and Ganjam districts too dried up.
The mutt’s downfall came when a few unscrupulous persons entered it on the plea of availing rooms on rent. They occupied the entire mutt within a decade and also terrorised its mahants.Mahant Balaram Das left the mutt and now resides in its Polasara branch.
Half of the 110 rooms in the mutt were declared unsafe. Many temple cooks used these rooms as their godowns. During eviction, there was little resistance from the occupiers. However, two families residing in the facility said the administration should have given them more time before vacating the mutt.