THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Enforcement Directorate officials from Kochi on Monday raided the house and office of CSI Church moderator and South Kerala Diocese (SKD) Bishop A Dharmaraj Rasalam following allegations of accepting capitation fee for admissions to the medical college under the diocese and misuse of funds mobilised for charity. The 13-hour raid and interrogation at the CSI Bishop’s House, LMS compound, concluded at night. Simultaneous raids were carried out at the residence of CSI Medical College (Karakonam) director Dr Bennet Abraham and two houses belonging to diocese administrative secretary T T Praveen.
The ED officials reached the Bishop House at 4am and started the raid at 6.15am as Bishop Rasalam was scheduled to leave for the UK later in the day to attend an Anglican Church meeting. High drama prevailed in front of the M M Cathedral for several hours as the bishop’s supporters and dissident group gathered in large numbers and shouted slogans against each other. A huge posse of police was deployed to avoid untoward incidents.
Unaware of ED officials’ presence, Transport Minister Antony Raju reached the M M Cathedral for the flag hoisting ceremony held as part of the South India United Church day. ED officials allowed only five people to attend the ceremony. Church officials told TNIE that Praveen and his family had been missing since late Sunday night.
Father Jayaraj of SKD told reporters that no incriminating evidence was collected in the raid.“There is a false propaganda by vested interests to sabotage the CSI Church. Bishop Rasalam’s bank account had only `2,500 and he is living on a monthly salary. Praveen is also in the city,” said Fr Jayaraj.V T Mohanan, who lodged 19 complaints with evidence against the bishop, Bennet and Praveen with Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman, said his efforts led to the ED raid. Mohanan also alleged they ignored ED’s summons thrice.
“The Vellarada police were probing the capitation fee scam. They had converted black money to the tune of `500 crore white, prompting the ED assistant solicitor to register a case and initiate a probe. Despite the ED seeking a report from the crime branch against them, it was not handed in time,” said Mohanan.It is reliably learnt that Bishop Rasalam has been allowed to leave for the UK on Tuesday on the condition that he would return on August 9.