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Break-In at the Hindu Mandir, Executive Committee Resigns, Board of Directors Fight Erupts in Blame Game

Opened in April 2001, the Hindu Temple and Jain Center of Las Vegas has come a long way in providing and enhancing an ongoing spiritual needs of the growing Hindu community in Southern Nevada.  With the growing community and increased demands lately, the Mandir has experienced excruciating growing pain due to some of the insolent Board Members which have caused conspicuous disagreements, unauthorized audio recordings, gossiping, yelling, verbal fights, wild accusations and even subtle threats among the board members.

A couple of months back, the majority of the Executive Committee members, including the President Sunil Vasu, resigned along with the then Chairman of the Board, Nirmalya Chatterjee.  This, the mass resignation, was an unprecedented move by the volunteer group of Executive Committee members since the opening of the Hindu Mandir in April 2001. Back in July of 2018, some of the regular members of the mandir community were elated to see Nirmalya as the Chair because of his extensive and diverse corporate experience, including international corporate positions at the senior management levels with some of the top Fortune-500 companies.

The contentious opinions among the Board members have resulted in a full-fledged civil war in the Board room.  Vegasdesi.com has learned of the extreme divisions among the Board members which is due to the reported break-in at one of the Mandir’s office room containing video recording equipment.

After making initial inquiries and an informal internal investigation, the then Chairman, Nirmalya Chatterjee, reported the incident to the Metro.  As per Nirmalya, the then Chairman of the Board, he did his fiduciary responsibility by reporting the break-in at the temple to the appropriate authorities in a timely manner.  The sinister environment has been brewing since the reporting of break-in to the Metro. Accusations started flying and have resulted in a copious smear campaign among certain Board Members.

Few of the Board Members are convinced and believe an insider job with the break-in as there was no visible forced entry and only a couple of people with a key had access to the room. Through its reliable sources, Vegasdesi.com has received the formal Metro police report as filed by the then Board Chair Nirmalya Chatterjee.  On September 25th, 2108, Nirmalya reported to the Metro the break-in which is classified as the malicious destruction of private property.  As per the filed report with the Metro, Nirmalya informed the authorities that while changing the access codes to the temple video camera system, the technician, the temple administrator and the priest noticed that an unauthorized audio microphone was installed and all the audio conversation within the temple was being recorded.  At that time the audio device was immediately disconnected.  As per the reliable sources, only videotaping inside the temple was authorized but not the audio taping.  It is alleged that camera ID and audio access codes were with certain members with no formal authorization and the audio recording was also directly connected to the mobile phone of two of the trustees.

After a week or so the video camera system went down and in August 2018, the technician, the temple administrator and the priest noticed that DVR was damaged.  DVR equipment was taken to a shop for repairs and it was found that the recorded data was swiped out from the hard drive, and the motherboard was destroyed. Immediately after that the new DVR was installed for the safety of the attendees and to protect Mandir’s assets.

“I was advised by the temple attorney through an email that I have the authority to turn the break in an investigation over to the police—a necessary step to protect the safety of our temple and devotees. I forwarded the attorney’s advice immediately to the trustees and with no one objecting to this legal advice,” said then Chair Nirmalya Chatterjee.  However, later some of the Board Members were aghast that why the incident was reported to the law enforcement. Currently, Metro is investigating the break-in and has interviewed some of the Board Members, Executive Committee members, and Temple Pandit Ji.

With business operations in need of a revamp, no respect for the current by-laws, the ineptness, and infighting of the Board members along with the conflict over control and alleged accusations has resulted in the involvement of multiple outside attorneys.  Some of the board members have hired attorneys to protect themselves from slanders and competing accusations.  The cease and desist letters are showing up in the e-mails to those trustees for circulating false and defamatory statements and allegations. The allegations also include misappropriation of Mandir funds. However, some Board Members and former Treasurer are convinced that there was no misappropriation of Mandir funds ever happened.

Lately, the attorneys have started questioning the legitimacy of meetings held and of future meetings along with the legality of the attending Board Members as the by-laws clearly state that an individual is ineligible to attend a meeting once he or she misses two meetings in a year.

As per the sources, and regular observations by the community members, most of the Board members are never seen at any of the events organized by the Mandir. Due to the ongoing infighting, some of the Board members are coming out of hibernation and ignoring the by-laws and started taking sides without researching the severity of the real issues, said one Board member.

On top of the break-in, competing accusations, and more, this publication has learned that most of the financial records and other pertinent documents are not stored in a secured place at the Mandir premises. The records are with one of the Board Member and the former Chairman Nirmalya Chatterjee was denied access to the financial records.  Numerous emails from Nirmalya went unanswered.

As per some reliable sources the Mandir has a Credit Card which is being used by a Board Member and the monthly statement is going to Board Member’s home.  Another Board Member, a financial expert, strongly believe that this arrangement is a colossal failure of basic accounting principles and controls.  The same member strongly recommends a forensic financial audit.  A few years back at the suggestion of vegasdesi.com and to bring in the financial transparency the then Chair Rao Gondy started posting the financial statements on the Mandir website, however, lately the community has no clue on the financial situation of the Mandir.

There is an inconceivable division among the Board Members.  Vegasdesi.com got hold of the latest email which went out from one Board Member attorney to the Board regarding the Board meeting which was scheduled for Sunday, January 27th, 2019.  As per the attorney involved, “To begin, [sic] our office and our clients formally disagree with the proposed meeting tomorrow for the following reasons: First, the current governing Board is comprised of 10 members that serve a two year term that began in July 2018 through July 2020. The members that comprise the governing Board are made up of those Trustees that qualified based upon attending 2 out of the 4 meetings in the prior year.”

The attorney involved mentioned “If the meeting [sic] tomorrow is going to be formally conducted under the currently governing documents, please advise the Trustees that they may attend to listen and comment upon the items in the Meeting Agenda but only members of the governing Board may vote upon any and all items contained within the Meeting Agenda. 

“We as trustees and believing in truth and fairness have an obligation to stand up to false smear campaigns,” said another Board Trustee.  He continued, “ We cannot and must not remain silent because that allows continuation of the false rumors and allegations within the Board.”

Most recently, Vegasdesi has learned that some non-voting members insisted on voting on certain agenda items during the meeting held on January 27th.  Surprisingly, Mandir’s legal counsel didn’t attend the meeting, no minutes were recorded on any audio device and again personal attacks were hurled at the meeting.  As of today, there is no official statement from the Board on the ongoing break-in investigation and where the Board stands with the new executive committee and what in the future they are doing to protect the assets of the Mandir.

At the time of publication of this article, the rancorous accusations and infighting among the Board members, with their monumental egos, is growing exponentially and Mandir hasn’t had a new permanent executive committee for over three months.  In the interim, the Board has approved the appointment of dedicated volunteers, Mr. & Mrs. Piplani to oversee the daily operations of the Mandir.  The good news is with Piplanis in operational control, the mandir is open and both of our talented priests, Pandit Brijesh Ji and Pandit Vishnu Ji, are providing daily religious services.






6 Comments to Break-In at the Hindu Mandir, Executive Committee Resigns, Board of Directors Fight Erupts in Blame Game

  1. Shelly says:

    This is a comment for the article for the hindu Temple. Iam a residence of Las Vegas and very proud that we have a Hindu Temple here and to Read this News whats happening In the Temple is a Shame. A person doing Recording in the Temple without a Consent is Illegal and Justice has to be done. The new chairman was owesome and brought so many changes in the Temple. Something Needs to be Done Please.

  2. Ravi Sharma says:

    This is a shame of how this whole incident( Break Inn )was handled by the Management. Especially in a Temple. It is very clear that Board Members were involved in the break inn and to hide there involvement they are resigning and not making this crime come out in general public.

    • Anonymous says:

      Clarification on Mr Ravi Sharma’s comment: Five members of the temple Executive Committee (namely, the Chairman, President, Vice President, Secretary, and Assistant Treasurer) resigned as they were being harassed and intimidated by several temple trustees for filing the report of break in to Las Vegas Metro after all internal efforts for over two months to find the perpetrator failed and there were internal blame game that was going on.

  3. Mahesh Rao says:

    Dear Trustees,
    I am a regular attendee at the Hindu Temple of Las Vegas since a few years. The profile of the institution has improved year on year and I’m sure a lot of hard work and dedication has gone into this improvement.
    I heard rumours around this but recently, I’ve come across the article on VegasDesi website regarding the break-in at the temple. (Webpage prints and linked document attached)
    https://www.vegasdesi.com/break-in-at-the-hindu-mandir-executive-committee-resignation-and-board-of-directors-fight-erupts-in-blame-game/

    From what I’ve understood, whilst surrounded with a lot of politics within the temple administration there are two main points mentioned in the report filed with the Metro police. (1) Recording equipment for audio conversations noticed by the technician, administrator & priest on the 07/24/2018 and (2) Damaged DVR and recording in the camera room found by the technician, administrator & priest on 08/01/2018. I understand this could bring a lot of disrepute to the institution and hence a proper criminal investigation may not have been instructed.

    I along with a group of other devotees have serious concerns about this and would like some clarifications before taking this further. In the state of Nevada, it is illegal to record conversations without the consent of ALL parties. We do not recall any notices in the temple premises informing us of audio being recorded nor did we ever approve this individually. We would like to know what are the investigations conducted around the identification of the two individuals who were recording and listening to the audio, one of whom I understand is Mr. Ram Janga. We will also like to know who else in the temple administration is supporting him and what actions will be taken against each, if any.

    Individuals like him bring shame to religious institution like ours and we strictly condemn this and request the administration to take an immediate action on Mr. Ram Janga and his supporters. If this is not done sooner we’d like to progress this as a criminal investigation with the law enforcement agency. I kindly request you to let us know the next steps and keep me posted with any updates.

    Regards,

    Mahesh Rao.

  4. Desi says:

    The Las Vegas Hindu temple was funded and has been run from it’s inception by people with big ego and endless selfishness. They have been generous for the wrong reasons; benefits from being religious, but not adequate spirituality or devotion. They were isolated and had not developed any rapport with our community. The newer trustees and management also have had similar problems. In fact they have been worse in many respect; vanity and false pride.

    The temple is in trouble because there are very few management persons who are competent and honest. To a certain extent it’s true for the past punditji and the current shashtriji, who use their job to just to enhance their income, not devotion to deities.

    Overall, the temple is getting what it deserves. Even God can’t help the management.

  5. Anonymous Ch says:

    I am writing this to commend Mr. Mahesh Rao. These days when it is norm to sit in the peanut gallery and talk about the Temple, Priests and Temple management in a negative tone, your response is a pleasant surprise. I am sure even the friends and families of these Trustee members do not have the sense of RESPONSIBILITY you exhibit here. It takes a lot of courage to stand up to the wrong doing and take the storm. It is only possible for a determined soul and a person with values. I salute to you sir.

    I have a noticed a couple of comments now and in the past too about the Temple Trustees. I feel sorry for the Trustees. They gave up their hard earned money ( people really think rich got rich easy) for a social cause, giving up their valuable time for their believed purpose, fighting for what they believe is right for the Temple going community – this is not a small task. It is much easier to donate a lump sum and walk away thinking someone did a great favor for the community. The work is in the management and day to day activities. How many personalities and people they deal with on a daily basis to run this big property with little resources. I run a small business – I know it. Most of these hard working people are behind the scenes. Only a few people hear about even their names.

    I am forever indebted to all those hard working people, volunteers, Priests, their families, Trustees and the management teams for their vision, tireless, selfless work. Without all these people, I cannot enjoy the peace and tranquility that I experience entering that property.

    I am sure the issues going on now at the Temple are not new to Temples and public places. I am positive the Truth will come out sooner than later. Satyameva Jayathe.

    Please let us help each other and keeping up this Temple alive for all of us in our thoughts, actions ad speech. Let us be true Hindus. Ego is what makes us identified as a particular human, going beyond that ego is superhuman. May be we can help each other in becoming superhuman. Thank you Vegas Desi for your well researched article, your courage and sense of social responsibility.

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