Employees manning the Vaikuntam queue complex reportedly resort to fraudulent methods to make quick money

The cupidity to spin fast bucks appears to have pushed the Vaikuntam staff in Tirumala to evolve new fraudulent techniques.

The fact that every devotee has to invariably pass thorough the complex to have darshan of the presiding deity appears to have prompted the staff to constantly evolve new techniques of fraud.

Though there were several instances in the past wherein the working staff resorted to deceptive methods, the latest technique adopted by a few employees supersedes all other fraudulent methods as only the pilgrims with valid tickets are targeted.

The solitary shortcoming of the system is that it is implemented only on the days when the temple town witnesses heavy influx of pilgrims.

The modus operandi is simple.

The ‘group of Vaikuntam queue employees’ don the role of shadow parties and track pilgrim groups consisting of large numbers. After making certain that the group is ‘genuine’ the ‘shadow party’ lures them promising a quick darshan in return for a particular amount depending on the crowd.

Once the deal is struck, which is normally done on per head basis, the palms of the pilgrim party are marked with green ink and are ushered into the darshan lines. They are advised to show the ink-mark in case anybody questions them.

Though the roots of the deceptive practice is not immediately known, the audacity with which it is carried out hints at the involvement of all the staff down the cadre, including the security and vigilance staff.

Despicable practice

Devotees, particularly in the Rs.300 special entry darshan lines and averse to long waiting hours, fall an easy prey to this despicable practice.

The well-knit practice would have never come to light but for the heavy crowds that thronged the town during the last five days which fortuitously gave way for a minor leak.

A Special Protection Force (SPF) constable, on conditions of anonymity, said that it is not confined to just the Rs.300 darshan tickets. It is ubiquitously found in the entire complex which houses the entry points of several other darshan lines.

Whether it is the exclusive entry point through which the parents with infants are allowed or Divya darshan lines, any devotee can get his demands met with the fling of a few currency notes.

When contacted, TTD Executive Officer M.G. Gopal told The Hindu that stringent action would be initiated against the erring staff. “There is no question of sparing the corrupt, however well connected.”

The management was contemplating putting in place a proper supervisory mechanism not only at the Vaikuntam queue complex but also at other vital points in the temple town. The TTD has already resolved to set up CCTVs in all the compartments, Mr. Gopal said.