Row over Jagannath temple video: BJP demands action against social media influencer Kamiya Jani


PTI, Dec 22, 2023, 8:17 AM IST

Kamiya Jani in Jagannath Temple Credit: Instagram/KamiyaJani

Bhubaneswar: The ruling BJD and the Opposition BJP on Thursday exchanged words over the entry of social media influencer Kamiya Jani to Shree Jagannath Temple for making a video on the 12th century shrine.

The video by Jani highlighted Shree Jagannath culture and also featured bureaucrat-turned BJD leader VK Pandian speaking on the importance of ‘Mahaprasad’, the ongoing heritage corridor project and other aspects linked to temple development.

However, Opposition BJP raised questions on how an alleged promoter of beef consumption (referring to Jani) was granted access to the 12th century shrine in Puri, where entry of non-Hindus is strictly prohibited.

As the controversy escalated, Jani in her Instagram post said, “As an Indian, my mission is to take Indian culture and heritage to the world. I have been visiting all the Jyotirlingas and char dhams of India and what a privilege it’s been. Woke up to this strange article in the newspaper questioning my visit to Jagannath temple. Not that anyone has reached out to me but just here to clarify that I don’t and have never eaten Beef. Jai Jagannath.”

Shree Jagannath temple Administration (SJTA) wrote on X, “The allegation made by a certain political party about YouTube influencer taking a camera to the temple premises is completely baseless. There is no truth in this. If anyone has any evidence, if they present it, it will be investigated and necessary action will be taken.”

Earlier, in a press conference, Odisha BJP general secretary Jatin Mohanty said the incident has hurt the religious sentiment of crores of Hindus. He also alleged that a video camera was used on the temple premises which is banned by the SJTA.

Mohanty demanded registration of a case against Pandian and Jani by SJTA under IPC Section 295 A for hurting religious sentiment of people. He also alleged that Pandian facilitated Jani’s entry into the temple.

“Social media influencer Kamiya Jani is a promoter of beef consumption. As per the law of Srimandir, no beef-eater could enter the temple without ‘prayaschita’ (penance). Pandian has facilitated the entry of Jani into the temple. The incident has hurt the sentiments of crores of Hindus and devotees of Lord Jagannath,” Mohanty told reporters.

While Pandian was not available for comment, BJD in a press conference came down heavily on the BJP and claimed that the opposition party was making baseless allegation and accused it of becoming intolerant over the development of the temple. The ruling party also clarified that Jani had taken ‘Mahaprasad’ at Radha Ballav ‘Mutt’ (monastery) and not inside the temple premises.

“Camera was not allowed inside the temple premises,” the BJD said in a statement.

“Let Lord Jagannath bless the BJP leaders to overcome their narrow mindset,” a BJD statement said.

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