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A Pink Diamond Mystery, A Sacked Priest, Politics

A Pink Diamond Mystery, A Sacked Priest, Politics

The iconic Tirumala Tirupati temple of Andhra Pradesh, one of the wealthiest religious bodies in India, is caught in allegations of theft and politics. 

The former priest of the temple, AV Ramana Dikshitulu, has made a stunning series of allegations against Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu and the men appointed by him to manage the temple.

Deekshitulu, 69, has called for a CBI investigation into the case of the missing jewel. He also alleges that since 1996, many such pieces of jewellery have vanished.

Deekshitulu said that priceless ornaments and precious diamonds which were donated by devotees to Lord Venkateshwara have disappeared.

He has further gone ahead and said that it is the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, along with the Temple authorities (TTD), who have been looting away the jewels.

But this is only a part of his allegations, which have taken a political turn because of the former head priest's perceived proximity to central leaders.

He had received Amit Shah in Tirupati just before the Karnataka elections and had reportedly conveyed his allegations and worries. He held a press conference in Chennai on May 15 and three days later, he was shown the door.

Deekshitulu has also made serious allegations against Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, accusing him of violating Agama Shastra -- the temple's rulebook -- by allowing digging in the "Potu" or kitchen of the temple. There is a belief that there is hidden treasure under the kitchen floor.

An executive officer of the temple board, Anil Singhal, denied that Deekshitulu had been forced out for going public with his allegations.

His retirement at 65 was in the rules framed by the Andhra Pradesh government for Archakas and there is nothing more to it than that, said Mr Singhal.

In a press conference on Sunday, Mr Singhal also fended off the former priest's allegation about the pink diamond.

The missing jewellery is not a pink diamond at all, he said, but a ruby that broke during a festival Brahmotsavam as people flung coins at the deity.

The temple official also said Tirumala was open to publicly displaying all jewellery that belongs to the temple, if the rules allowed it.

Tirupati Balaji is one of the most revered temples in South India. The Temple is known as one of the richest temples in the world, is visited by lakhs of people from across the world every year.



Tags: Chandrababu Naidu Ramana Dikshitulu TTD