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Temple trips on loan, US firm evicts priest

world Updated: Jan 06, 2008 03:19 IST

A Hindu priest and four families have been evicted from a temple by a Virginia-based lending firm which claimed they had defaulted on a loan.

Hundreds of supporters had signed a petition hoping to stop the eviction of Pandit Ramadheen Ramsamooj, spiritual leader of the Saraswati Mandiram Temple in Epping, New Hampshire, and a dozen others after the property was lost during a foreclosure, the Union Leader reported on its website.

The legal fight began when lending firm G&G LLC took the temple to court in 2006, accusing members of defaulting on a loan they took to improve the facility. G&G won a $2.5 million judgment against the temple in 2006 in a Virginia court. The temple then went bankrupt, and in November 2006, the 100-acre property was sold during a foreclosure.

G&G Epping LLC, a separate entity created by G&G, eventually purchased the property, but the temple has accused the firm of mortgage fraud and argues the property was illegally taken, the Union Leader said.

Temple members insist they shouldn’t have been forced off the property until the Supreme Court hears their case.

“This is a very sad day,” said Ramsamooj after being kicked off the temple property. The temple launched unsuccessful legal battles in Rockingham County Superior Court to try and get the land back. An appeal has now been filed at the state Supreme Court. Ramsamooj said he’s trying to find a new place to worship. Members of other Hindu temples in Massachusetts have offered to help.

Temple members will have 28 days to remove their belongings. The temple occupied several buildings and had large statues and other religious artifacts on the property.