Vishwashanti Manav Sevashram alleges ‘temple grabbing,’ funds fraud

Nagpur: A curious incident of ‘temple grabbing’ and has come to the fore. Taking advantage of ageing as well as deceased trustees of Vishwashanti Manav Sevashram which runs Shri Sant Gajanan Maharaj Mandir at Balaji Nagar (Extension), Manewada Road, some dubious persons allegedly took control of the temple and misappropriated the funds received from various sources.

In a petition filed before the Joint Charity Commissioner, Nagpur, the applicants Pandurang Dnyandeo Kahile (68) and Janardhan Damduji Chikhalkar (65) said that total 11 trustees were working in Vishwashanti Manav Sevashram. Out of 11 trustees, five trustees have passed away over a period, four have left the locality and residing in various other areas. At present two trustees are alive but due to bad health, one is unable to look after the working of the temple. Only one trustee, Pandurang Dnyandeo Kahile, is looking after the temple management.

According to the petition, after the death of Vasantsingh Chavhan, the non-applicant Gunderao Ramaji Mohod (63) got himself appointed as President of Vishwashanti Manav Sevashram. The election was not got approved in the general body meeting through a resolution. The ‘self-appointed’ President Mohod also facilitated another non-applicant Sheshrao N Rewatkar as Manager of the temple. Both the non-applicants are neither trustees nor members of the said society.

The petition further alleged that Mohod misused his powers and committed several irregularities including misappropriation of funds. The self-appointed President did not float tenders for purchasing materials needed for various religious rituals and programmes organised by the temple. The non-applicants opened the donation box placed at the temple and found Rs 13,575. But they did not deposit the amount in the bank account of the said society. The amount donated by the devotees needs to be counted every day and deposited in the bank. The amount misappropriated from this collection is beyond surmise. As per the procedure, it is necessary to open the donation box in the presence of everyone, and deposit the collected amount in the bank after conducting its panchnama. It happened several times. Similarly, the funds received by temple through donations, fixed deposits were not deposited in the nationalised bank account as mandatory. The funds were deposited in the coop society headed by Mohod. There is no record with in respect of articles received from donations or purchased. Therefore, such transactions are not reflected in the balance sheet. Similarly, the list of articles collected by the temple does not mention the cost of the articles.

After going through the petition filed by a citizen named Rajesh Natthuji Rahate against the non-applicants President Gunderao Mohod and Manager Rewatkar, the Joint Charity Commissioner restrained the non-applicants from operating bank accounts of the society, not open the donation box of the temple. The non-applicants were also restrained from alienating the movable and immovable property of the society.

However, the society alleged that despite the Joint Charity Commissioner’s directives, the non-applicants continue to commit irregularities and misappropriation of funds mainly due to the ‘blessings’ of political leader of the ruling party. This political leader is exercising pressure tactics and interfering in the affairs of the society and the temple, the petition alleged.