Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) is in the news again for all the wrong reasons. Earlier this year the TTD board was forced to reconsider its decision to sell the temple assets after social media outrage by devotees against this move contemplated by the Christian CM Jaganmohan Reddy of Andhra Pradesh (AP).
It has now come to light that one of its employees, Shri A Rajasekhar Rao, Assistant Executive Officer (AEO) employed with the Sri Venkateswara (SV) group of temples and who was in charge of the Hundi counting department in the Tirupati Mandir is a Christian despite the fact that officially he declared himself Hindu.
A media expose in February this year had revealed that Rao had visited and prayed at the St. Paul Lutheran Church in Puttur. Following this revelation, Rao had defended himself saying that he was a Hindu and that he had not prayed at the church but simply accompanied his wife who had converted to Christianity.
An inquiry was initiated by the TTD to probe this charge in April this year. Special grade deputy executive officer Shri R Rajendradu from Vijayawada was appointed to inquire into the case (reference Roc No. DA1/9968/2019 dated 20/4/2020).
The inquiry conducted in the presence of the charged official, as well as the reporting and presenting officer, held Rajasekhar Rao guilty of hiding his true identity as a practicing Christian.
The inquiry report states that:
“The said A Rajasekhar Babu, AEO, has been indulging in practicing and professing Christianity, a non-Hindu religion as evidenced by his active participation in Christian Mass held at St Paul’s Lutheran Church, Mission Compound, Puttur which is unbecoming of an employee of sincerity, honesty, discipline, and impartiality while performing duties to the best satisfaction and devotion to the organization of Lord Venkateswara”.
The report further states that the officer had taken an oath and signed that he had faith in Sri Venkateswara and that he would render his service with sincerity and not violate Hindu Dharma traditions.
The findings of the report say that as per the detailed examination of the video clipping along with the explanation of the charged official, remarks of the reporting officer, and cross-examination of the inquiry officer, the charged official participated in the church prayer along with his wife which violates G.O.M No 1060 dated 24.10.1989 under Rule no 9 (6). It also concludes that the charges against the accused have been proved.
It is important to mention that the TTD service rules mandate that employees of TTD be practicing Hindus. However, this case clearly shows that Rao was a crypto-Christian, an issue that has been plaguing many parts of the country in general and AP, Telangana and Tamil Nadu in particular.
This is not the first time that such blatant violation of service rules has been reported. Earlier, in 2017 too Deputy Executive Officer in TTD’s Welfare Department Ms. Snehalatha was caught violating the service rules and attending church prayers by traveling in her official car.
A fact-finding team in 2006 had also reported such undesirable activities of non-Hindu TTD employees denigrating Hindu Dharma and indulging in Christian proselytization. Even the appointment of Jaganmohan Reddy’s uncle Subba Reddy as the Tirumala Board Chairman had created a furor with claims being made that he was a practicing Christian with a Hindu name, a charge he vehemently denied.
Is it time to take another look at crypto-Christianity and how to deal with it? Clearly, lax and uneven implementation of existing laws is not discouraging predatory Christian proselytisers – a complete crackdown on their bigoted and socially divisive agenda is the urgent need of the hour.
(Featured Image Source: News 18)
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