A month after it was discovered that crooks were manipulating the reservation system and charging people for darshan at the Siddhivinayak temple in Mumbai, a total of 9 people were arrested in connection with the case, reported Mid-day.
During the investigation, police in Dadar discovered that a group of flower sellers and traders who operated outside the temple were selling illegal QR codes to worshipers for darshan. The temple authorities filed a complaint with the police, which resulted in a registration case. Dadar police then raided shops near the temple.
The cops confiscated the cell phones of 13 traders. During the raid, they matched QR codes that were found in the defendants’ cellphones and matched them with the temple’s CCTV footage. Police discovered that the trader who booked the darshan slot did not visit the temple when someone else did on that particular slot. Thus, the police were able to identify and catch the 9 accused.
The arrested men are Sanjay Keer, Niraj Barai, Chandan Kawali, Amit Kumar Gupta, Dilip Gupta, Deepak Upadhyay, Dinesh Gupta, Naresh Amganty and Haridas Tiwari. They were convicted under Sections 33 (omission) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), 34 (common intent), 419 (cheating by impersonation), 420 (cheating) and the relevant provisions of the Bombay Police Act.
Talking to Mid-day, a police officer explained that a devotee must reserve a place online on the temple app for darshan. In doing so, a QR code is generated that he must show at the entrance to the temple to access it.
According to DCP Pranaya Ashok, the accused would reserve the darshan slots before others, and then black-sell the slots to worshipers who either failed to secure a slot or came without their designated QR codes. marketing QR codes and also deceived the trust of the temple and the worshipers for whom action was taken against them, ”he added.
The background to the darshan Siddhivinayak scam
In November of this year, a scam was exposed by Mumbai-based doctor Amit Thadhani. In a Twitter thread, Thadhani explained how crooks charged people up to 300 for darshan at the temple, which was otherwise free.
Thadhani said he went to the temple with members of his family, where he was approached by a man standing in front of one of the florists. The man told him that darshan was only possible with prior online reservation. He claimed he could get a pass online for them immediately for a fee.
Thadhani didn’t believe it at first, but when he downloaded the app and logged in with a new username, it showed all slots were booked. The scammer told him he could organize a darshan at Rs. 300 per person. They were a group of ten people. He further added that he would need five cell phones to make the “reservation” as the app only allowed two people per phone.
He and the other four members of the group gave them their cell phones. The scammer, along with his sidekick, took action, and within minutes the reservation was confirmed for everyone.
Thadhani had an idea of how they performed the scam. To confirm his theory, he kept the person’s login on his device. He added, “These people are blocking all available slots in advance through various fake IDs. So there are no slots available for true devotees.
He added screenshots of the fake account in the thread and said, “This is the fake account the slot was blocked through (obviously the person’s name isn’t really Siddhivinayak). So remember, if you don’t get a place for darshan in Siddhivinayak, chances are the local touts outside the temple have already blocked them all.