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Centre, Odisha seek permission for Rath Yatra without devotees

Bhubaneswar: Odisha’s Principal Resident Commissioner Sanjeeb Kumar Mishra on Monday filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court on the behalf of the State Government seeking conduct of Rath Yatra in Puri without “public attendance” or devotees.
“If the Rath Yatra is confined to Puri alone in a limited way without public attendance as proposed by Gajapati Maharaj of Puri, Chairman of the Puri Jagannath Temple administration, the State Government will endeavour to make necessary arrangements to conduct the Rath Yatra accordingly,” the Principal Resident Commissioner stated in the affidavit.
The Supreme Court’s order of disallowing Puri Rath Yatra had come on a plea by an NGO seeking direction to stay the holding of the festival. The plea filed by NGO Odisha Vikas Parishad claimed that presently the entire nation including Odisha is facing an unprecedented situation due to Covid-19 pandemic, where the lives of the common people are at a huge risk.
On the other hand, the Centre on Monday also sought permission from the apex court for conduct of the festival. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appearing for the Centre mentioned the matter before a bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra and said the tradition of centuries may not be stopped.
If Lord Jagannath will not come out tomorrow, he cannot come out for 12 years as per traditions. While maintaining the precautions to ensure that pandemic is not spread, the Odisha Government can impose a curfew for a day, he said. He also suggested that the Rath Yatra can be telecasted live
Senior Advocate Harish Salve appearing for the Odisha Government agreed with the Solicitor General.
The Centre also sought modification of the apex court’s June 18 order which stayed the festival.
Meanwhile, the Union Home Minister Amit Shah called up the Puri Gajapati Maharaj and discussed about conducting the Rath Yatra, Odisha BJP sources said.

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