Head of former Travancore royalty accused of smuggling

August 20th, 2011 - 2:58 pm ICT by IANS  

Thiruvananthapuram, Aug 20 (IANS) Kerala opposition leader V.S.Achuthanandan has charged Marthanda Varma, head of the erstwhile royal family of Travancore, with smuggling precious jewels from the Padmanabha Swamy temple.

“Don’t you know that Marthanda Varma goes to the temple everyday,” Achuthanandan told reporters here. “When he returns he carries a tiffin box. The general perception is that he brings the ‘payasam’. But it is not that. Instead, it is jewels.”

Marthanda Varma oversees the functioning of the famous temple through an executive committee.

“I was told these things by one of the former temple priests, who lost his job after he found out these things,” said Achuthanandan, the former chief minister. “At one point this priest’s life was also in danger. All these things he has told me.”

Achuthanandan also lashed out at the royal family and said that they were trying to spread canards that evil would fall if the unopened kallara (vault) B was opened.

His revelation comes at a time when the former royal family moved the Supreme Court Friday, seeking direction not to open vault B, as such a step would hurt the sentiments of many devotees.

“Now they are trying to say baseless things that vault B should not be opened. When Varma opened the vault did anything happen?” Achuthanandan said.

There have been reports that in the past this vault was opened. “It is your role to expose the ‘double role’ of Varma, who is trying to use the findings of the recently held devaprasnam to override the apex court ruling,” he said.

“There have been two court rulings that after India achieved independence, there are no kingdoms,” Achuthanandan said. “Instead, democratically elected governments that run the affairs of the state.”

Rama Varma has said in his application that most of the devotees were against the opening of the vault B as this would hurt their sentiments and beliefs.

The application further says that by opening five other kallaras, particularly the kallara A, the threat to the security of Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple has increased. By opening the kallara B, the threat would increase.

On July 21, an apex court bench comprising Justice R.V.Raveendran and Justice A.K.Patnaik had set up a committee to do an inventory of the treasure in the temple vaults.

Achuthanandan’s revelation and the petition filed Friday coincides with an examination of the ‘devaprasnam’ by a team of experts, who have warned that either those opening the vault or their family members would die. It can be opened only by God, they have said.

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