Udupi: Suicide pact- Fear of exposure forced jeweller to poison family?

Daijiworld Media Network - Udupi (SP)

Udupi, Jul 17: It has come as a shock for Padubelle and surrounding places after it came to light that Shankaracharya, who was considered by even people close to him in addition to the general public as a honest man, had actually cheated Kurkalu branch of Innanje Cooperative Agricultural Bank by pledging spurious gold worth Rs 65 lac. Nobody thought that Acharya, who was a gentleman to the core and had earned respect and trust of the people as well as bank staff, could have indulged in a scandal of this magnitude. After the issue came into the open many are expressing the doubt about similar frauds which would have been committed in other banks including nationalized ones.

It is almost certain that Shankaracharya was overwhelmed at the thought of his fall from the position of respect in the society and uncovering of the facade of being truthful and honest once the fraud he had indulged in came to light. Many analyze that Acharya would not have expected the things to become so critical. Several of his sympathizers feel that he would have faced funds crunch on account of drying of inflow into his business on account of certain government policies and emergence of big jewellery houses in ornaments making business.

Other than a house which Acharya had built for himself about two decades agao, he does not have much property. Therefore, speculation about where the money so raised has gone, and whether outsiders had got involved and cheated Shankaracharya, are rife and these things need to be probed.

After the fact that Shankaracharya, his wife and two daughters died out of poison consumption came to be known, manager of the bank, Umesh Ameen from Innanje, called general manager of the bank, Manohar Rao, to inform that Shankaracharya had raised huge loans from the bank. Growing suspicious, Rao got the ornaments pledged by Acharya appraised by jewellers other than the one appointed by the bank. During the process, it was found that out of about three kg of gold pledged by Shankaracharya, only 150 grams was genuine gold. There are allegations that jewel appraiser of the bank, Umesh Acharya, who had certified all these ornaments to be genuine, and bank manager, Umesh Ameen, had knowingly violated norms. It is being argued that the bank staff had faith in Acharya who had impeccable record as a customer of the bank.

President of Innanje Cooperative Agricultural Bank, Rajesh Rao Pangala, said that Shankaracharya was a valued and trusted customer of the bank and the manager who had faith in him, would have granted these loans. He however said that the bank manager and jewel appraiser had committed mistakes in not properly following the procedures. He said that the bank manager had also transgressed his powers as the per customer limit for gold loans has been pegged at Rs 5 lac by the bank.

The police have taken into possession fake ornaments pledged to the bank apart from certain documents. Umesh Acharya from Kurkalu Pajai Moodumane, who had evaluated the pledged ornaments, and Umesh Ameen (43) from Innanje , who had granted loans, have been arrested and produced in the court.