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Friday, June 9, 2023

Temple records of 3,600-acre properties set on fire by contractor who didn’t pay dues: Andhra

Property documents of a temple in Vijayawada were set on fire by a contractor who didn’t pay the dues. He broke into the temple Executive Officer’s office and set fire to all the documents related to leasing/renting of 3,600 acre properties. Andhra Pradesh police arrested contractor Prabhakar Rao who was behind the incident and his 2 accomplices Miriyala Naveen and Doneti Chinna Yesu.

On March 22, hundreds of files and documents of 3,600 acres of land belonging to Shri Raghunatha Swamy temple in Gollapalli village of Nuzvid in Vijayawada were set on fire by miscreants. They broke into the EO’s office at night and set fire to the records. The incident came to light when neighbours and devotees noticed smoke emerging from the EO office and raised an alarm. The fire was doused immediately but the documents pertaining to the leasing and renting of temple properties were gutted.

Police informed the media that they suspected that “it could be the handiwork of temple staff or persons connected with the temple, as their focus seems to destroy the documents in order to gain undue advantages out of it. CCTV camera footage is being examined and a forensic team collected clues from the scene of the offense”. Their suspicion came true as the investigation revealed that it was one Prabhakar Rao behind the incident.

Yalarthi Prabhakar Rao, a contractor had a difference of opinion with Tallapragada Vigneswara Rao, Executive Officer of the Shri Raghunatha Swamy temple. They had an argument over awarding tenders recently. Prabhakar Rao created a ruckus in the temple on March 22 leveling corruption charges against the EO. The latter responded saying he should pay the pending rent due for the temple lands he occupied and show proof for his allegations.

“Felt insulted for EOs behavior, Prabhakar Rao committed the offense along with his aides Miriyala Naveen and Doneti Chinna Yesu by entering the temple office and setting the records on fire,” the DSP Ashok Kumar Goud told the New Indian Express. Andhra Pradesh HRCE has been facing accusations of failing to protect endowment properties.

On March 29, the Andhra Pradesh High Court lambasted the HRCE Commissioner for alienating endowment properties and failing to protect them. Commissioner Hari Jawahar Lal had issued proceedings to remove some lands belonging to the Kanchi Kamakshi Ekambara Swamy temple in Guntur from the prohibited properties list. Criticising the Commissioner’s action the court said that “it was like handing over the keys to the thief” and called him unfit for the job.

The Chief Justice also said that he has been observing for the last one year that no one was interested in protecting endowment properties. He said, “The officials are acting as if they are hand in glove with the unscrupulous elements who are trying to grab endowment properties. It appears like the officials of endowment departments are working for the interests of politicians and ministers. No one is interested in protecting endowment properties. They are committing a ‘grave sin’ by alienating the endowments properties”.

With a Christian as the CM of the state, Hindu temples are facing many such issues and are losing their wealth. In August 2022, the Andhra government has asked temples to break their fixed deposits (FDs) prematurely to pay the Endowments Department’s pending statutory fees. It demanded Rs 458 crores from Tirupati Tirupati Devasthanam(TTD) for an expressway project. The government through its lapdogs in the TTD board tried to sell 50 properties belonging to the temple to pay salaries to employees.

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