VIJAYAWADA: Almost a week after a silk saree offered to Goddess Kanaka Durga went missing and a furore ensued, there are few answers on where the object de curiosité is. Reliable sources expressed suspicion that the saree is still with Kodela Surya Latha, the trust board member who was given the pink slip after former executive officer M Padma submitted a report to the government stating the former had pilfered the saree worth Rs 18,000.
The government on Friday relieved M Padma from the post of temple executive officer and appointed her the Managing Director of AP Brahmin Welfare Corporation. As no police complaint was lodged by either Sri Durga Malleswara Swamyvarla Devasthanams or the devotees who offered the saree, the One Town Police which conducted an informal inquiry into the incident chose to remain tight-lipped on details of the missing saree.
On August 6, Padmaja, a devotee from Undavalli village offered, among other things, a saree made of fine silk to the Goddess as part of celebrating the auspicious month of Ashadam. To her shock, the saree went missing minutes after it was set aside after being presented to the presiding deity. A worried Padmaja enquired about her saree to priests who told her that Surya Latha had taken it away to get it registered. When the devotees found that the saree had not been taken to the registration counter, they cried foul. With temple officials maintaining secrecy over the issue — they were reluctant to share CCTV footage with police — the devotees alleged that the saree was with Surya Latha.
Temple authorities decided not to involve police in the investigation to avoid “tarnishing the image of the temple”. “Temple officials have kept the CCTV footage in their custody. We requested them to submit evidence, but they refused to do so,” said One Town inspector D Kasi Viswanath. “We’re investigating the issue. It is not good to comment when the investigation is still underway. We will find the saree soon,” a temple official said.