A group of priests from the Devalaganapur temple in Kalaburagi district of Karnataka allegedly set up fake websites in the name of the temple and siphoned off millions of rupees in donations from devotees. Arrested by the police, they have not yet been found.
The temple located on the river Gangapur in the taluk of Afzalpur in northern Karnataka attracts devotees not only from across the state but also from neighboring Maharashtra and Telangana. Sri Dattatreya is the deity of the temple.
According to the police, the priests have created about eight websites with names like Dattatreya Devalay, Ganagapur Dattatreya Temple, Shri Kshethra Dattatreya Temple, which over the past four years have accepted fees and donations of Rs 20 crore, all of which were misappropriated. in their personal bank accounts. They charged Rs 10,000 to Rs 50,000 as fees for conducting various poojas and other rituals.
The temple is under the control of the state’s Muzurai Department, and Kalaburagi Deputy Commissioner Yashwant Gurukar is the chairman of its development committee. The fraud was uncovered during a recent audit meeting chaired by Gurukar, who then asked Executive Officer Namdev Rathod to file a police case.
A local resident said on condition of anonymity that the priests were present in the town until the case was filed against them.
Preliminary reports from a recent forensic audit suggested nearly 2,000 worshipers had paid money through the fake websites, sources said, adding that individual priests would deal with worshipers and give their number of contact on the receipt.
The police also suspect the priests of scamming money from the temple’s donation boxes. “After the incident was discovered, we checked the CCTV footage. On the day the money from the donation boxes was counted, the CCTV cameras were either hijacked or covered up. Kalaburagi Deputy Commissioner, Yashwant Gurukar, ordered the recovery of money from the accused priests,” a police officer said.
The temple’s official website, http://www.devalganagapur.com, has been taken down.