ISKCON caught on the wrong foot again, found diverting mid-day meal rice in Vizag

Officials from vigilance and civil supplies departments seized 19.8 tonne of rice; found the temple had not maintained the stock register after March

Children having their mid-day meal at a school.
Children having their mid-day meal at a school.

NH Web Desk

A raid on the premises of the ISKCON temple in Visakhapatnam by officials of vigilance and civil supplies departments has resulted in a seizure of around 19.8 tonne of unaccounted for mid-day meal rice at a time when the stock was allegedly being illegally diverted to a private firm in Kakinada, officials said on Wednesday.

The rice is provided by the government to ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) as it is a partner in the mid-day meal programme in Andhra Pradesh and thus supplies the meals to some schools.

When the officials, acting on a tip-off, entered the temple premises on Monday night, they found rice bags being loaded onto a lorry. More than 100 bags weighing around 5.5 tonne had already been loaded.

Vigilance Inspector Mallikarjuna Rao was quoted as saying that on questioning, the lorry owner Gavara Eswar Rao and his aide Sanyasi Rao said that the mid-day meal rice was being packaged and the stock was supposed to be shifted to Kakinada.

They further claimed that a priest of ISCKON was also involved in diverting the rice meant for feeding school children.

The rice was being shifted from gunny bags (in which grains are supplied by the government’s Civil Supplies Department) to plastic bags, and the stock was ready to be transported.

Apart from the 110 bags of rice loaded on the lorry, the officials also found another 286 bags stuffed with the rice.

The officials found that the temple had not maintained the stock register after March this year, and that the education department officials had not inspected the stock after February.

A case under Essential Commodities Act 1955 has been registered.

The ISCKON has denied the allegations of diverting the mid-day meal rice, saying that the seized stock was donated by the devotees.

Two weeks ago, the Akshaya Patra Foundation (APF) run by ISKCON had refused to add onion and garlic in the meals in Karnataka as according to APF’s beliefs onion and garlic are ‘tamasic’ ingredients. As ingredients, they are in the “lower modes of nature,” and are associated with passion, ignorance, lethargy, lack of focus and confusion, the organisation believes.

When this was reported, it had led to an uproar around the country leading several activists to demand that the Karnataka state government cancel the contract with Iskcon on the grounds that it is trying to impose its religious beliefs on lakhs of children.

Click here to join our official telegram channel (@nationalherald) and stay updated with the latest headlines

Published: 19 Jun 2019, 6:38 PM