Representational image. | Image Courtesy: The Hindu
Following the complaints of missing gold and silver offerings from the strongroom in Sabarimala temple in Kerala, the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) on Monday made it clear that the records are immaculate and there is nothing missing. A detailed probe was conducted by the state audit department after the allegation that there is a discrepancy of 40 kilograms of gold and 100 kilograms of silver which had been offered to the temple by devotees since 2017.
“An audit of 10,413 items were done at the Aranmula strongroom of Sabarimala. Of these, 5,270 items were earlier audited by TDB. As per the executive officer’s report, there are no missing gold or silver items. The records are clear and all the items have been accounted for,” said A Padmakumar, the president of TDB.
Sabarimala has been a sensitive issue in the state, especially after the Supreme Court verdict upholding the entry of women of all ages to the temple. Following the historic SC verdict, the Bharatiya Janata Party-Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh combine in the state had resorted to many violent attacks and protests against the entry of women of menstrual age to the temple. Since the temple has been at the centre of many political debates, the allegations had triggered a big controversy in the state.
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The inspection has been done by an audit team led by senior auditor Pratap Kumar and they cross-checked the records following the direction of the High Court. Devotees who visit the hilltop temple Sabarimala usually offer various things to Lord Ayyappa like money and precious metals including gold and silver. There are proper records and receipts maintained for these offerings, following which these things are shifted to the strongroom.
“When a senior officer retires, he should brief his successor on what the job entails as well as other details. However, this has not happened in recent times. When an officer retired six years ago, he did not hand over the duty and the report assessing the wealth inside the strongroom. This led to the board withholding retirement benefits of the officer concerned. Also, in cases where the lapses are intentional, we will consider filing criminal cases,” senior auditor Pratap Kumar said.
Highlighting this particular issue, the officer approached the High Court seeking a sudden settlement of issues. The court then directed to settle the issues immediately. As the auditor finds no discrepancies in the records, it is clear that the news which had come out in this context were baseless, said the Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran.
The TDB president has also observed that the allegations regarding Sabarimala are to tarnish its name. “These reports should never have surfaced in the first place. They are without any basis,” he said.
He added, “I don’t understand why our media houses are running after these fake news which boost the communal forces. For more rating and clicks, these people are gambling with the peace and communal harmony of our society.”
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