Alleged irregularities and corruption at Kesa khandanasala of Sri Durga Malleswara Swamyvarla Devasthanam are rocking Indrakeeladri, abode of goddess Kanaka Durga, here. The barbers allege that they are paying bribes to the officials to look the other way.

The supervisory staff and higher ups at the temple have allegedly fixed targets for the barbers at the ‘kesa khandanasala' (a place where the visiting pilgrims get their heads tonsured in fulfilment of their vows) at Durga Ghat. The barbers, who did not want to be quoted, say that they were paying not less than Rs. 1 lakh to higher-ups per month.

As a quid pro quo, the barbers will be allowed to demand ‘dakshina' from the devotees. In addition, the supervisory staff reportedly mark the attendance register to suit the convenience of barbers. Though some barbers do not turn up, the supervisors mark them as present. On Wednesday, there were only 30 barbers at the tonsuring hall, but 42 were present as per the attendance register. The barbers were supposed to be on duty from 4.30 a.m. to 12.30 p.m.

The temple management issues ticket for tonsuring on payment of Rs. 10 per head. The supervisory staff are allegedly demanding more money from the barbers. As a result, the barbers say, they were forced to pay not less than Rs. 100 as their contribution to the Rs.1-lakh kickback target fixed by the higher ups.

The barbers also rue that non-Nayee Brahmins were also being appointed as barbers at the kesa khandanasala. The man who was appointed as barber even went to Sammakka Saralamma Jatara to participate in hair auction there. However, his absence was not marked in the attendance register, they allege.

When contacted, temple Executive Officer M. Raghunath said, “It has not come to my notice. I will inquire into it, and take necessary action against the erring staff.”

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