Kollur temple fraud is an insiders’ job: SP Annamalai

7:35 PM, Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016

Kolluru Thief's Udupi : The district police have been able to unearth the mystery surrounding the massive fraud that has taken place at Sri Kollur Mookambika temple. The district police have been able to unearth the mystery surrounding the massive fraud that has taken place at Sri Kollur Mookambika temple.

The temple workers have been amassing the gold offered by devotees to the Goddess since June 2012, they said. Speaking to mediapersons here on Tuesday, SP Annamalai said the offenders had well planned their modus operandi.

The five accused, who have been arrested, are involved in lifting the gold. The culprits were into cricket betting and gambled using the cash from the money deposited in the counter number one and later reimbursed the amount partially by pledging the gold devotees offered in the banks and cooperative societies, he added.

The SP said the police, who were chasing the culprits behind the fraud, were able to recover the gold in banks and cooperative societies.

The temple executive officer (EO) had registered a case on February 22 after noticing that the prime accused, Shivaram B, who is in-charge of the Counter Number 1 went absconding. The fraud was taking place since three years eight months (since June 2012), he added.

The police, who followed the clue, were able to nab the prime accused and trace the gold.

The total gold collected as offering by the devotees is 3172 .20 grams since 2012, of which 2521.030 grams of gold ornaments are found missing. The police could recover unaccounted 138 grams of gold from the temple cupboard. While 2243.890 grams of gold ornaments were recovered in 10 banks and three cooperative societies in Kollur, Kundapura and Gangolli. The police could also recover 430 grams of gold in the process of temple search on Tuesday. The remaining 415 grams of gold are yet to be recovered, he added.

The accused are Shivaram B, the prime accused; Gangadhar Hegde, the person who managed the software formalities; Prasad Acharya, who is the colleague of Shivaram while working in shifts; Nagaraj Sherigar, who was already in suspension for his previous offence; and the fifth accused is the former security guard of the temple.

The SP said criminal activities were reported for the fourth time in the past eight years. However, the fraud was managed within the temple and it was not made public. As per the rules, the cash or gold, received from the devotees, should be reported to the temple EO by 12 noon next day. The devotees should also be given the acknowledgment for the offerings. It was observed that in many cases previously, the EO had signed the required documents acknowledging the reporting of the gold or cash, although it was not deposited. This encouraged the main accused to misuse the cash and gold ornaments, the SP explained.

Annamalai said 45 grams of gold was auctioned by the cooperative society recently. The accused would only pledge the gold ornaments, but never paid the interest of the principal amount.

The SP said eight others have been taken into custody on suspicion and the person of interest.

Besides, a report would be written on 10 people in the administrative set up for failing to discharge duties. They are charged for lethargic act of administration. Most probably, the deputy commissioner would initiate a departmental inquiry. There are also cases of civil suit. The banks and cooperative societies have been issued notices demanding clarification. The gold ornaments that were pledged are not the

gold of usual shape and most of the ornaments carried some symbolic references to Goddess. The lapse on the part of EO will also be taken into consideration. Auditing has not been carried out after 2012, the SP added.

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