TIRUPATHI: Tirumala urban police on Wednesday busted a racket involving selling of L2 category VIP darshan tickets and arrested 10 persons. The gang used the letterheads of several bureaucrats in Andhra Pradesh to obtain VIP tickets and sell them at a premium. They carried the racket for two years till 2015 and lied low after the TTD started sending alerts to the bureaucrats about the tickets issued on their recommendation letters. Later, they changed tack and started making duplicate donor passes to get darshan in VIP quota.
A TTD employee was the kingpin of the racket and when police went to serve him notice he was found to be on leave. Each ticket was sold for 4,000 to 5,000. Dharmaiah, working in the education wing of the TTD, used to get 1,000 as commission for each ticket. All the accused are from Tirupati and nearby areas.
Police suspicion strengthened after the gang sent 23 pilgrims for VIP break darshan. “They made an error in one of the passbooks. The number 0 was printed as alphabet O. They have been arrested and remanded to judicial custody,” a Tirumala police officer said.