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Andhra CM Naidu wants probe into alleged disappearance, theft of Tirumala temple jewellery

Naidu said that the state government had ordered inquiries by two independent judicial commissions in 2009 and 2011 by justice Jagannatha Rao and justice Wadhwa respectively for verification of the jewellery, when there were instances of maligning the Tirumala temple and Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD).

india Updated: Jun 28, 2018 14:30 IST
Srinivasa Rao Apparasu
Srinivasa Rao Apparasu
Hindustan Times, Hyderabad
N Chandrababu Naidu,Venkateswara Temple,theft of Tirumala temple jewellery
Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu has requested appointment of a sitting high court judge to take stock of the allegations, verify the records, inspect the jewellery, ornaments and assets of Venkateswara Temple in Tirumala. (PTI Photo )

The Andhra Pradesh government has decided to order a judicial inquiry by a high court judge into the allegations of disappearance and theft of antique jewellery worth hundreds of crores of rupees at the Venkateswara Temple in Chittoor district’s Tirumala.

Chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu on Wednesday wrote a letter to the Hyderabad high court acting chief justice Ramesh Ranganathan requesting him appoint a sitting high court judge ‘to take stock of the allegations, verify the records, inspect the jewellery, ornaments and assets, scrutinise the procedures in vogue and place a report in the public domain.’

Naidu said that the state government had ordered inquiries by two independent judicial commissions – one by justice Jagannatha Rao in 2009 and the other by justice Wadhwa in 2011 for verification of the jewellery, when there were instances of maligning the temple and Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD), the organisation that manages the country’s richest temple.

“The need has arisen again to dispel fears and apprehensions of millions of devotees across the comprehensive verification by a sitting high court judge, as the sensitivity of the issue reached alarming proportions and any amount of counter justification that all is well either by the TTD or the government is unable to provide solace to the public at large and devotees in particular,” he said.

Naidu’s letter comes after the retired head priest of the temple AV Ramana Deekshitulu last week sought a central inquiry into the alleged financial irregularities in the temple administration, disappearance of antique jewellery, including a pink diamond, worth hundreds of crores of rupees donated by several kings, digging of temple kitchen to unearth hidden treasure and other issues.

Deekshitulu announced that he would also meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi soon to put forth his demand and threatened to take up fast unto death in July if his demand was not conceded.

The TTD trust board, which met in Tirumala on Tuesday, decided to strip Ramana Deekshitulu of his Agama advisor post, which he had been holding despite his retirement in May. He was replaced by present head priest Venugopala Deekshitulu.

TTD chairperson Putta Sudhakar Yadav also announced that all the jewellery of the lord would be put on display for the media soon so that they could see the deliberate misinformation being spread about the trust.

First Published: Jun 28, 2018 13:47 IST