Srisailam Shiva Temple Scam: Andhra Police Arrest 27 Persons For Siphoning Off Collections, Donations
A total of Rs 2.12 crore was swindled during diversion of hill shrine funds collected through tickets for poojas and letting out of its guest house.
Andhra Pradesh police have arrested 27 persons in connection with the siphoning off of crores of rupees from the famous Srisailam Shiva temple in the State's Kurnool district.
While the police paraded 24 of the arrested before local media on Tuesday, they had already arrested three others earlier this year.
A total of Rs 2.12 crore was swindled during 2017-20 through the diversion of hill shrine Sri Brahmaramba Mallikarjuna Swamy Temple funds collected through tickets for conducting various poojas and letting out of its guest house.
Media that police recovered Rs 83.4 lakh of the siphoned money, besides seizing a car valued at Rs 8 lakh.
All the arrested are residents of the town.
According to Kurnool Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Atmakur Venkata Rao, four of the 27 arrested were permanent bank employees, while the rest were outsourced staff.
Police have now registered four separate first information reports (FIR) — for misappropriation of collections from 14 lakh VIP abhishekham tickets, 56 lakh donations tickets and 1.42 lakh other tickets — stemming from four complaints lodged by the temple executive officer.
Rao, who said the police would recover the rest of the siphoned amount, said more arrests were likely in connection with the case.
The DSP said an M. Tech graduate, besides another person, helped the bank employees — from nationalised State Bank of India and Andhra Bank — defraud the temple’s money by tampering with its software.
The siphoning off has been taking place since July 2017, when ticketing procedures went online with the Temple Management System (TMS) software.
Reports said the temple’s executive officer had lodged a complaint way back in December 2017 against the M. Tech graduate, who had come to Srisailam from Vijayawada to help launch the TMS software.
The officer made the complaint after he saw the graduate take away cash from a counter through close circuit television cameras (CCTVs).
On 7 February this year, police arrested a person and recovered Rs 14 lakh cash collected through ‘VIP Darshan’ tickets. This money was siphoned off by not recording ticket sales for one hour, especially during the change of shift between two employees.
Also, the software was manipulated to take cognisance of only one operator per shift. This led to the temple executive officer seeking the backend report, in which he found a lot of discrepancies between the amount collected and deposited with the banks.
Besides, six fake identification accounts of non-existent operators were created, resulting in the diversion of Rs 56 lakh of the temple’s money.
Two FIRs registered in this connection resulted in two persons being arrested and recovery of Rs 36 lakh.
The M. Tech graduate was sent back in December 2017, resulting in a takeover by the other person, who took advantage of a new software system to siphon off the temple collections through entry tickets and “Arjitha Seva” (a service to have a longer darshan of the presiding deity in a temple).
About Rs 1.42 crore of temple money was defrauded through this.
The temple executive officer, then, lodged the third complaint with the police on 24 May.
Police suspect there could have been diversion of temple collections made under other heads too.
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