Karnataka priests create fake websites in temple’s name, swindle Rs 20-crore donations

It is alleged that a group of priests at the Devalaganapur temple in the Kalaburagi district of Karnataka have set up fake websites in the name of the temple and seized donations from devotees of Rs. They were taken into custody by the police, and have not yet been traced.

The temple located on the Gangapur River at Afzalpur Taluk in North Karnataka attracts devotees not only from across the state but also from neighboring Maharashtra and Telangana. Sri Dattatreya is a temple deity.

According to the police, the priests set up around eight websites with names like Dattatreya Devalay, Ganagapur Dattatreya Temple and Shri Kshethra Dattatreya Temple, which for the past four years have accepted fees and donations of Rs 20 crore, all of which have been transferred to their personal bank accounts. They paid 10,000 rupees – 50,000 rupees as a fee to conduct many puja and other rituals.

The temple is under the control of the state’s Mozurai constituency, and Yashwant Gurukar, the deputy commissioner of Kalaburaji, holds the chairmanship of the temple’s development committee. The scam was revealed at a recent audit meeting chaired by Gurukar, who then directed CEO Namdev Rathod to register a case with the police.

One of the residents, who asked not to be named, said that the priests were in the town until the case was registered against them.

Initial reports from a recent electronic forensic audit indicated that nearly 2,000 devotees paid money through the fake websites, the sources said, adding that individual chaplains would take care of the devotees and gave their contact number on the receipt.

Police also suspect that the priests scammed money from the temple’s donation boxes as well. After the incident surfaced, we checked the CCTV footage. On the day the money was counted from the donation boxes, the CCTV cameras were either diverted or hidden. Kalaburaji Deputy Commissioner Yashwant Gurokar has ordered to recover the money from the accused priests.”

The temple’s official website, http://www.devalganagapur.com, has been deleted.

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