August 23, 2009 4:26:33 am
The chief priest attached to Tirupati Tirumala Devasthanam (TTD)-run Lord Rama Temple was arrested here on Saturday on charges of stealing and mortgaging the temple gold ornaments,police said.
Venkataramana Deekshithulu had allegedly stolen the ornaments weighing about 1.3 kg and mortgaged it for about Rs 10 lakh in August last year,they said. Based on a complaint by TTD Vigilance Wing,police arrested the pawnbroker also.
The theft came to light when TTD officials conducted a check of the inventory of ornaments at the temple on Friday night,police said.
The priest,a father of three daughters,said severe financial crisis had driven him to commit the offence though it was an unpardonable sin. He tried to get back the mortgaged ornaments but in vain,police quoted him as saying.
Temple sources said the TTD,which managed the famous hill temple of Lord Venkateswara at Tirumala here,had started conducting a check of inventories in about 18 temples run by it in and around Tirupati following a High Court order on Thursday. The High Court,which had also directed the TTD to conduct an inventory of movable and immovable properties,had asked it to submit a detailed report within two months.
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