Ex-Tirumala chief priest continues attack on TTD, demands CBI probe

The spat between officials of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) and ousted chief priest Dr A V Ramana Deekshitulu continued on Sunday, as the latter demanded a CBI probe into some missing jewels at the temple.
Addressing reporters in Hyderabad, Deekshitulu held up a newspaper clipping about the auction of a diamond.
“A few months ago, a pink diamond was auctioned in Geneva for Rs 500 crore. When I saw the photo of the auctioned diamond in a newspaper, I immediately felt that it was similar to the one which used to be in the platinum necklace of Lord Venkanna,” he was quoted as saying.
The former chief priest also alleged that several precious pieces of jewellery have gone missing since 1996 and demanded a detailed investigation.
He also claimed that only jewellery and ornaments that were donated recently, were being used to decorate the deity.
In another major allegation, he also claimed that the TTD had demolished ancient temples in the name of renovation, without any approval from the authorities.
“Taking up new constructions on ancient structures is against Agama Shastra. Where is the need to demolish ancient structures? A portion of a 1,000-year-old structure has been demolished and stones have been removed. When I took up the issue with TTD executive officer (EO), he told me that he was not aware of it. How can TTD members order demolition without informing the EO?” he asked.However, responding to the allegations TTD EO Anil Kumar Singhal said that the TTD was ready to publicly display the jewels amid heavy security, if the Agama advisers allowed them to do so.
“Our job, as officers, is to look after the care and amenities accorded to pilgrims visiting the hill shrine whereas the religious staff safeguard the rich traditions and ancient rituals. The Justice Wadhwa Committee, in its report, said all the jewels donated to Lord Venkateswara were intact,” he told reporters.
Deekshitulu has been facing flak since he addressed the media last week in Chennai and disclosed that the priests have filed a petition against the administrators demanding transparency pertaining to donations and jewellery.
They also demanded to bring the TTD administration under the ambit of the Right to Information Act.
Following this, the TTD relieved chief priest Deekshitulu of his duties on Friday.The TTD Trust Board passed a resolution to state that all ‘mirasi archakas’ (hereditary priests) must be retired on reaching the age of 65. A Venugopala Deekshitulu has now replaced 69-year-old Ramana as head priest at the Lord Venkateswara temple atop Tirumala.