VIJAYAWADA: Gunmen, party workers and even surveillance cameras keeping a hawk's eye on the happenings could not save a ruling party legislator fall victim to pickpockets. The amount may be less -- Rs 30,000 -- but it exposed how the pick-pockets take advantage of rush at the famous Dwaraka Tirumala temple near Eluru and even VIPs are not spared.
Taking advantage of the huge pilgrim rush at the famous temple in West Godavari district, pickpockets snatched away Rs 30,000 cash from the ruling party legislator. The MLA was among a host of ruling YSRC MLAs and a cabinet minister who visited the temple to offer prayers on Friday. Another Rs 9,000 cash was stolen from a YSRC Youth Wing leader in the rush, police said.
YSRC Bhimili MLA Muttamsetti Srinivasa Rao popularly known as Avanthi Srinivas, who was recently inducted into AP Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy's cabinet as tourism minister, came to the temple to offer prayers and district YSRC leaders including Unguturu MLA Talari Venkat Rao, Denduluru MLA Abbayya Chowdhary and party's Youth Wing general secretary K Ramesh also reached the temple to welcome the minister.
Guarded by their gunmen and local police who provided bandobust, the minister and MLAs offered prayers inside the temple for nearly an hour. The party youth wing leader Ramesh took Rs 1000 from the Rs 10,000 he was having in his trousers and offered it to the priest also.
After coming out of the temple premises, the minister and MLAs spent some time with the party leaders and cadre and during that time MLA Venkat Rao noticed Rs 30,000 kept in his pocket missing. Similarly, Ramesh lost Rs 9,000 he kept in his pocket after offering Rs 1,000 to the priest.
Shocked, the MLA took up the matter with the police men who were on bandobust and also the temple Executive Officer B Peddi Raju. He, however, did not lodged a formal complaint with the police.
After the issue was brought to the notice of the officials, they went through the footage of the 12 CCTV cameras that were installed near the place from where the pick-pockets are suspected to have targetted the MLA. "We could not trace any suspect with the available footage at the 12 places,'' a police official said. The pick-pocketer might had mingled as a party worker and came close to the MLA and struck," a police officer said.
There are nearly 110 CCTVs installed in the precincts of the temple but pick-pockets strike at ease in the queue lines taking advantage of the huge pilgrim rush, particularly on weekends.