| State Assembly |
Bhubaneswar, March 24: The theft of silver bricks from the Emar Mutt in Puri had its reverberation in the Assembly today with the members demanding a discussion on the incident.
Raising the issue in the Assembly during the Zero Hour today, BJD MLA from Pipili Pradeep Maharathy said the matter should be discussed in the House since it had involved one of the oldest mutts in the state.
“Mahanta Rajgopal Ramanuj Das, who had earlier denied any involvement in the theft, was, however, found to be pivot of the racket,” said Maharathy demanding that the mahanta’s ancestral house in Bihar be raided.
Though the mahanta had known about the treasure trove, he deliberately held back information to the state endowment department, he said.
Several others, including a disciple of the mahanta, a mutt staff and proprietor of a jewellery shop in Puri, were arrested yesterday in relation with the incident.
There might be a bigger racket involved, he said demanding a thorough probe to unearth the racket.
BJD MLA and former minister Debasish Nayak sought a direction to the state endowment department to conduct a detailed audit of various mutts in the state, including the Emar Mutt.
Deputy Speaker Lalbihari Himirika, who was on the Chair, asked Maharathy to give a calling attention notice for discussion on the issue.
Yesterday, seven persons, including the mutt’s mahanta, were arrested in connection with the theft. Moreover, acting on a tip-off, the Puri police had recovered 3.40 quintals of silver ingots worth of Rs 3 crore, two cars and one two-wheeler from different places in Cuttack and Puri.
The theft from the mutt’s treasure had come to light following the arrest of two labourers — Barun Nayak and Akshya Nayak — on February 25 from Dhenkanal. They had been charged with stealing silver bricks worth Rs 26 lakh.
On February 26, police raided the mutt and unearthed 522 sliver bricks each weighing nearly 35kg to 38kg. The entire treasure weighed around 18 tonne 530 grams. The bricks were more than 150 years old bearing marks of the British era.