He burgled nearly 150 temples

Meet Bengaluru man whos allegedly made a career out of stealing from templesImage Chamundi Temple,Mysuru by Philanthropist 1 via Wikimedia Commons
news Saturday, September 05, 2015 - 14:49
Nagaraj's “tappu Kanike”, his offering of penalty as penance for his “sins” do not appear to have pleased the gods this time – the police caught up with him after CCTV footage showed him making away with gold from a temple in Bengaluru. 
 
On September 3, the police arrested Nagaraj Mallegowda for looting the Amba Devi temple in the Kamakshipalya area of Bengaluru on August 19. They recovered 200 gm of gold from him and are trying to trace the rest of the loot.
 
KG Halli police inspector Srinivas Reddy told The News Minute, “He has burgled temples in other South Indian states too. But this time, we are holding the CCTV footage from the temple as proof of theft because we can clearly see it is he who stole the 200 gm necklace from the deity. We are not sure what he did with the items he stole, but we are trying to trace the rest.”
 
According to the Times of India report, Nagaraj Mallegowda, who grew up in Kadugondanahalli in Bengaluru, considers himself a devotee of all the gods. After stealing gold and ornaments from a temple, he would later appease the presiding deity by offering a part of the booty as a “kanike” (offering to the deity).
 
This is not the first time that the 68-year old has been caught for theft. Nagaraj alias “Khoja” Nagaraj alias Pakhiza has allegedly been a habitual offender and has been looting temples for at least 35 years, according to the police. 
 
Reddy told The News Minute, “Nagaraj has been robbing temples for the last 35 years. In police stations across Karnataka, at least 150 cases have been filed against him for stealing from temples. He has stolen from Chamundeshwari temple in Mysuru, Udupi Krishna Degula and other renowned temples. He has also burgled temples in other states too but successfully evaded punishment.”
 
According to Reddy, Nagaraj has served a year or two in jail and has often managed to get bail when arrested. He says that he even managed an acquittal in some cases.
 
Nagaraj's “career” in theft has included famous temples in the south India, including the Chamundeshwari temple in Mysuru, Udupi Krishna temple in Udupi district, Bangalore Mirror reported. He also reportedly used his legal knowledge to fight his way out of some cases, and even to get bail.
 
According to the Bangalore Mirror report, his modus operandi involved getting himself acquainted with the temple staff and priests by working there or by presenting himself as a devotee and occasionally extending help to perform pujas. He would donate ranging between Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 to the priests and ingratiate himself with them, and make off with valuable whenever the opportunity presented itself.
 
The Bangalore Mirror report says that he was born into a Muslim family and was named Pakhiza by his father Mallegowda. Nagaraj learnt Sanskrit slokas chanted by priests and used this knowledge to gain the trust of the staff. He allegedly began stealing from a very young age and stuck only to temples. He has reportedly has three wives with whom he would share his booty. 
 

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