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India bans Protestant bishop from traveling abroad

Church of South India Bishop Dharmaraj Rasalam is accused of money laundering
Church of South India Bishop Dharmaraj Rasalam of South Kerala diocese.

Church of South India Bishop Dharmaraj Rasalam of South Kerala diocese. (Photo: Supplied)

Published: July 27, 2022 07:21 AM GMT
Updated: July 27, 2022 07:23 AM GMT

Government officials investigating economic offenses have banned a Protestant bishop from southern India from traveling abroad after he was accused of money laundering.

Church of South India (CSI) Bishop Dharmaraj Rasalam of South Kerala diocese was detained at Thiruvananthapuram international airport, in the southern state of Kerala, on July 26  before he could board a flight to the UK.

The bishop was ordered to appear before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) following his suspected attempt to flee the country, officials told the media.

Church officials said the allegation against the bishop and other officials was false and they will prove their innocence and come out clean after the probe.

The ED, a federal agency dealing with economic offenses, recently raided the offices and residences of officials, including Bishop Rasalam for alleged money laundering.

The ED conducted the raids following allegations that they had collected huge amounts of money promising admission to the church-run Dr. Somervell Memorial CSI Medical College, Karakonam, for various medical degrees.

“These are allegations and there is no truth to them”

According to officials, many applicants did not gain admission as promised after paying the money, and in other cases, admissions were given and the collected money placed in separate accounts.

Church spokesman Father Jayaraj denied the allegations against the prelate and other Church officials.

“These are allegations and there is no truth to them,” Father Jayaraj told the media as the ED continued to raid Church-run institutions and the residences of its officials.

Father Jayaraj asserted that the prelate and others would be cleared after the completion of the probe.

C. R. Godwin, director of the Education Board of the diocese, said the accusations were “based on false allegations” and added that the diocese had all the documents to “prove its innocence” and welcomed the ED raids.

Earlier, the Crime Branch of the Kerala police conducted a probe following a similar allegation against the officials of the medical college and found no wrongdoing.

"Vested interests created such stories to tarnish the image of the medical college"

The Kerala high court, the top court in the state, refused to accept the findings of the Crime Branch and ordered it to reinvestigate the matter.

Though the medical college faced similar allegations from several quarters in the past no one was found guilty.

A Church official said vested interests created such stories to tarnish the image of the medical college and the truth will come out, adding “we are not worried about the ED or any other probe as we have nothing to hide.”

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