Major scam unearthed at Srisailam temple

Series of scams at Srisailam temple involving contract employees

Kurnool police to probe all angles including the possible role of temple officials in the frauds accounting to over Rs two crore

A major scam was unearthed at the Srisailam temple in Andhra Pradesh where 20 contract employees siphoned off Rs 1.42 crore over a period of three years.

The employees are those engaged by two nationalized banks to work in the Rs 150 special darshan and arjitha-seva ticket issuance counters in the temple premises.

While one has pocketed Rs 750 only, Rs 22 lakh is the maximum amount bagged by another person. The fraud by others ranged mostly between Rs five to Rs eight lakh.  

The famous Shaivaite shrine in the Nallamala forests of Kurnool district is visited by millions of pilgrims every year especially from AP, Telangana, and Karnataka.

Based on a complaint of the temple trust executive officer K S Rama Rao on Sunday, the Kurnool police have registered two FIRs and are investigating the case.

According to J Venkat Rao, DSP Atmakur, the investigating officer appointed by Kurnool SP Dr Fakeerappa Kaginelli, the accused used loopholes in temple software systems to divert money into their accounts.

“The person in the counter used to log out from his user ID a little earlier than his shift end and then using different credentials, issued a few tickets to the pilgrims. Though these transactions are registered in the backend they are not reflected in the daily tickets-amount collection charts. Such daily fraud amounts being small went undetected since June 2017,” Rao told DH.

However, a Rs 14 lakh misappropriation from the donations account by one contract clerk detected in February this year has alerted the temple and police officials to focus on the Srisailam Management Information System, the software used for all such electronic services at the temple.

“And earlier this May, a Rs 56 lakh swindling by two other employees was detected in the abhishekam proceeds. Rs 42 lakh was recovered from them,” the DSP said.

In the present case, 14 employees are engaged through one nationalized bank and cheated to the tune of Rs 76 lakh.

Rs 66 lakh is by six who were first engaged by a reputed Public Sector Bank. Though the bank disassociated with them through a letter in December 2018, the temple management continued with their services when they grouped as a service provider, the police official stated.

“Preliminarily, it is these contract workers’ deeds but we have to probe the involvement of the temple officials since they have the responsibility to keep tabs on money matters,” Rao told DH, when asked about the temple's senior management role.

The accused are booked under IPC sections – 406, 409 (pertaining to criminal breach of trust by a public servant, banker, or agent), 420 (cheating), and various sections of the IT act. No arrests are made in the present case yet.

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