Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) officials, who run the world's richest temple atop Tirumala, are reported to have unearthed a scam in which donor laddus were being stolen with duplicate tokens on Tuesday.
According to a report in the Times of India, a TTD vigilance team held a staffer identified as Venkataramana for misappropriating 60,000 laddu tokens.
TTD distributes free laddus mostly to donors. For example, disciples who donate Rs 1 lakh get six laddus a year, while anyone donating Rs 5 lakh gets 10 laddus. They claim their laddus, with tokens and an acknowledgment slip.
Venkataramana used duplicate tokens to collect the laddus in the name of the donor devotees and was caught when some officials noticed the imbalance in slips and tokens.
"Though we know that some of the staffers have been illegally selling laddus by printing duplicate tokens, the scale is shocking to us as well. He (Venkataramana) is claiming that he has been distributing them among his friends and others. But since the number of laddus is in thousands, we suspect blackmarketing of laddus," R Rajendrudu, deputy executive officer of TTD donor cell, told TOI.
A report in Deccan Herald adds, that the TTD had installed CCTV cameras in all the 60 counters to tackle this issue, but the employee is said to have devised a foolproof technique to divert the prasadam and sell them at a premium.
Quoting sources, the report adds that the employee was also selling laddus meant to be dispatched to the donors by post or courier to regular devotees who ask for extra laddus at premium prices.
Venakataramana has been suspended and the TTD vigilance team is looking into the case.