Congress MLA attacks govt over Melkote temple heist

Minister says diamond-studded crown has not been stolen

The ruling Congress, particularly Muzrai minister Prakash B Hukkeri, had to face embarrassing moments in the Assembly on Monday when its own member Ramesh Kumar questioned why no criminal case has been booked against a priest who had illegally kept diamond-studded ornaments in his custody.

While replying to questions in this regard by N Cheluvarayaswamy (JD-S), the minister said the priest Narasaraja Bhat of the Cheluvarayaswamy temple in Melkote in Mandya district has been kept under suspension for keeping the valuable ornaments for four months in his custody in violation of norms. An inquiry is on in this regard.

The minister said there are two muzrai temples in Melkote, the Cheluvarayaswamy and the Yoganarasimhaswamy temples. Six people have been arrested for the theft of ornaments worth Rs 4.96 lakh from the Yoganarasimhaswamy temple, he added.

Ramesh Kumar, in a raised voice, said, “A person who was in possession of the crown illegally for four months has been just suspended, while some people who have committed minor crimes have been arrested. Should we be accepting such an answer from the government? Is this is the way the government should function? You should have booked criminal case against Narasaraja Bhat.”

‘No theft’

The minister said that no theft has taken place at the Cheluvarayaswamy temple and hence, the priest has been kept under suspension pending inquiry. The diamond-studded crown has not been stolen as assumed by Ramesh Kumar. The managing committee and the executive officer have failed to check misappropriation of diamonds and jewels of the temples.

Hence, the government is considering a proposal for superseding the committee and appointing an administrative officer, Hukkeri said.

Earlier, Cheluvarayaswamy said Narasaraja Bhat’s brother has replaced him as the priest after his suspension.

The two temples need tight security and inventory of the temple ornaments should be prepared. Also, basic tourist facilities should be provided in Melkote, he said.

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