Ornaments worth Rs 1 cr go missing from temple

Hyderabad: Gold and silver ornaments worth Rs 1 crore were suspected to be missing from the Secunderabad Ujjaini Mahankali temple due to confusion in handing overcharge by outgoing executive officers (EO) of the temple.

President of Telangana State Temples’ Protection Committee president Nagilla Srinivas reportedly complained to the CMO on August 3 about the incident. He suspected the hand of executive officers worked in the temple in the incident allegedly in cahoots with higher authorities.

The complaint caused a sensation among the temple employees, Endowments commissioner’s office and devotees. Some devotees felt the current executive officer cannot hold ex-executive officers accountable for such an incident. The temple executive officer is accountable for keeping the ornaments in safe custody.

According to rules, the outgoing executive officer hands over a list of jewelry items to the new officer taking over. But five EOs who served at the temple for 10 years did not follow the rule. There is no record of them handing overcharge or receiving a charge at all.

The current EO Annapurna, who assumed office in 2015, did not receive a charge from her predecessor. She reported this to the Endowments department in a letter on May 26, 2017. She listed details of gold and silver ornaments she took possession from the outgoing EOs Bangaru Naidu, V Ranga Rao, V A Ashok, and B Venkatesh, Andhra Bank and Punjab National Bank lockers and from temple priests. These were re-deposited in the banks’ lockers and the temple’s sanctum-sanctorum under the custody of the temple priests.

A comparison of old records with the ones submitted by current EO Annapurna reveals that 76 gold and silver ornaments are unaccounted for. The complainant urged the CMO to call for a CBI inquiry into the incident.