While similar allegations have surfaced in the past, BJP leader Bhanu Prakash Reddy on Tuesday released documents related to an audit, to back his claims.

Silver crown and jewels missing from Tirumala treasury BJP raises fresh row in TTDFile photo: Wikimedia Commons/Nikhil B
news Controversy Wednesday, August 28, 2019 - 08:36

The BJP on Tuesday alleged that a crown made of silver and some precious jewellery went missing from the treasury of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD), which oversees affairs at the famous Sri Venkateswara temple in Andhra Pradesh.

Speaking to reporters in Tirupati, Andhra BJP leader and former TTD Board member G Bhanu Prakash Reddy said that the crown, which weighed around 5.4 kg, and some jewellery offered by devotees, had been missing since October 2017, when an audit was conducted.

While similar allegations have surfaced in the past, Bhanu Prakash Reddy on Tuesday released documents related to the audit, to back his claims.

"Several crore devotees hold the temple in high regard. The TTD has a responsibility to keep its jewels safe. How could they go missing from the treasury? Can anyone just carry a crown out of the treasury?" he asked, demanding a thorough probe and stringent action against the accused responsible for the theft.

“The TTD boasts of unbreachable security systems in place, including armed guards and a closely monitored CCTV network...Is the TTD trying to save anyone? Has a recovery procedure been initiated in the past? The common devotees of Venkateswara want to know the answers," he told reporters.

Bhanu Prakash also alleged that the TTD, instead of admitting lapses on its part, issued an order to recover the money from an official of the rank of Assistant Executive Officer (EO), Srinivasulu, as the jewels went missing when he was in charge of the treasury. In this regard, it was reported that Rs 25,000 was being drawn from his salary each month since November 2018, to recover a little over Rs 6 lakh in total.

Reacting to the allegation, TTD Executive Officer Anil Kumar Singhal stated that the temple trust immediately initiates a recovery process, whenever such allegations surface, pending inquiry and disciplinary action. 

Speaking to reporters, Singhal said, “The stock is under the control of an assistant executive officer who is the custodian of the property. He will be held responsible in case any shortage or missing of property is reported.”

As Srinivasulu claimed that he was innocent, TTD officials verified the records of the treasury only to find more discrepancies in the jewels present, compared to what they had listed in their official records, Anil Kumar said.

The TTD EO said that a fresh audit will be conducted in September to ensure 'flawless' record-keeping and added that a probe would be initiated to ascertain dereliction of duties of officials if any.

The authorities are expected to issue a detailed statement on the issue soon.

The controversy over missing jewels first came to light last year, when former TTD chief priest Ramana Deekshithulu, levelled shocking allegations of financial irregularities against the administration of the board and also raised suspicion that several precious ornaments from the temple were missing.


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