TIRUMALA: Officials of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams Board and the police were shocked when an ongoing investigation into black marketing of the most sought after VIP break darshan tickets at Tirumala took an unexpected turn.
Officials found that a tout, who was recently booked by the police in connection with the black marketing racket, had misused the recommendation letters of 46 VVIPs including ministers, MLAs, MPs and bureaucrats of both Telugu states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana state, several times.
It may be recalled that on October 29, the TTD's Vigilance and Security wing took one Sriram Veerachari, 39, into custody after he was found selling VIP break darshan tickets — which he obtained using the recommendation letter of Mandapeta MLA Jogeswara Rao to devotees at exorbitant rates.
During the course of investigation, Veerachari confessed to officials that he had obtained a letter from the Mandapeta MLA by pleading that his relatives wanted to have VIP break darshan at Tirumala. Subsequently, he sold the tickets to other devotees for an exorbitant price.
Veerachari confessed to the TTD vigilance wing that he has been operating the black marketing racket at Tirumala with the help of his accomplices, a journalist with a local news magazine, identified as Thota Venkateswara Rao, Veera Venkata Krishna and Subbarayuni Umashankar.
Further investigation has unearthed that the key middlemen, Veerachari, has gained access to more than 46 ministers, MLAs, MPs, and bureaucrats of AP and TS and obtained recommendation letters from them on the same pretext: his relatives wanted darshan tickets.
Veerachari said he misused the recommendation letters of VVIPs, ut several times over the past several months.
According to the list, Veerachari has misused the recommendation letter of Mr Tatikonda Rajaiah, then deputy chief mnister of Telangana state, over 36 times.
This was followed by the recommendation letters of Mr Kaleru Venkatesh, MLA of Amberpet, over 27 times and Mr D. Vinaya Bhaskar, MLA, Warangal, 17 times. Veerachari also misused the recommendation letter of AP home minister M. Sucharitha four times apart from other VVIPs.