In an unprecedented move, the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD), which manages the Tirumala temple, has decided to terminate the services of 45 non-Hindu employees who were on its payroll. However, the TTD, which has issued "show-cause notices leading to termination" to these employees, has assured that they will be relocated to other state government departments.
The move comes after a video of a TTD employee, Swarnalatha, visiting a church in her official TTD car and praying there, became viral, leading to outcry of devotees.
According to sources, services of those who have submitted affidavits during recruitment that they are not Hindus, will end, while their pay and service will be secured. However, the quasi-government status of the TTD being a religious organisation makes their future hang in balance. "No decision has been taken so far regarding 45 non-Hindu employees. TTD execuive officer Anil Kumar Singhal on Monday made it clear that they will be relocated," a senior TTD official told DH.
All these employees were believed to have been recruited before 1989, as there was no restriction on recruitment of non-Hindus at that time. During 1989-2007, their recruitment was limited to no-teaching category of the TTD. After a 2007 amendment, non-Hindus can't be employed in either teaching or non-teaching category.
According to TTD vigilance head Ake Ravi Krishna, the 45 non-Hindu men and women were working in different wings of the temple. "Out of these, 39 were recruited during 1989-2007 under compassionate grounds and a few services were regularised," said Anil Kumar Singhal at an earlier press conference.
Meanwhile, the CPI said the TTD has punished those who have come out and declared their faith in the form of affidavits. "After serving the TTD for more than two decades, these people have been targeted. One of the employees is a Muslim, easily known by his name. How come the TTD gave him employment in the first place," asked Kandarapu Murali of CPI.
Rangarajan, chief priest at the Chilkur Balaji temple here, pointed out that the endowment act is very clear. "The rule states that every person appointed shall profess Hinduism and they seize to be an employee if they change their belief," he said.