Cash, jewellery stolen from centuries-old shrine in Puri

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Puri, Apr 1 (PTI) Unidentified miscreants broke into a centuries-old shrine here and fled with valuables and cash, a police officer said on Thursday.

The burglars cut through the padlock at the main gate of 'Mausi maa' temple on Wednesday night and entered the sanctum sanctorum, where they managed to open the iron chest that had jewellery and saris.

The miscreants decamped with the valuables as well as the money from the donation box, the officer said, adding that authorities at the shrine are yet to give an estimate of the loss incurred due to the theft.

Local residents in the pilgrim town have blamed poor security measures for the incident.

'The burglars have looted around Rs 3,000 in cash. We have detained some suspects and they are being interrogated,' Puri SP Kanwar Vishal Singh said.

The chief priest of the temple, Biswanath Mishra, however, said that he had taken home the major chunk of jewellery with him, and the thieves could lay their hands only on semi-precious ornaments.

Expressing deep concern over the theft at Mausi Maa temple - located barely 500 metres from the 12th century Lord Jagannath temple -- Dibyasingha Deb, the titular king of Puri, said the district administration must take necessary steps to nab the culprits at the earliest.

'The administration should work out a comprehensive and effective strategy to ensure safety and security of places of worship in the pilgrim town,' he said in a statement.

Goddess Mausima, also known as Ardhasoshini, is the aunt of Lord Lagannath. She offers 'Poda Pitha' (baked rice cake) to Lord Jagannath on his return journey during Rath Yatra. PTI AAM RMS RMS