There should be a CBI investigation into the reported disappearance of gold worth crores from the famous Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple in Thiruvananthapuram, former Kerala chief minister V.S. Achuthanandan said on Friday.
The veteran CPM leader said in a statement that when he brought up the shady deals going on in the temple long ago, he was attacked on grounds that had little to do with reason or facts.
Achuthanandan said he felt vindicated as a Supreme Court-ordered audit carried out by former Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) Vinod Rai stated that "gold worth Rs 186 crore has been stolen."
"The only way to find out the truth about the stolen gold is a CBI probe," added Achuthanandan.
The affairs of the temple were looked after by the erstwhile Travancore royal family until 2014 when a Supreme Court bench entrusted the administration of the temple to a five-member panel.
The court's order was based on a report submitted by amicus curiae Gopal Subramanium that things were not fine under the administration of the erstwhile Travancore royal family.
The court was originally moved in 2011 by former Indian Police Service officer-turned lawyer T.P. Sundara Rajan who asked for an inventory of the temple's treasures to be prepared.
The court decided to take stock of the previous stock of gold and other valuable treasures worth more than Rs 1,00,000 crore and also asked former CAG Vinod Rai to conduct an audit of the accounts of the temple for the past 25 years.
Rai's report is believed to run into 1,800 pages. It recommended a committee to be formed to probe the discrepancies that he flagged.
Since 2011, the temple and its surrounding area are under a heavy security cover and visitor arrivals have multiplied also.
The royal family has expressed its displeasure over Rai's report, saying he never spoke with them in his enquiries.