Deepkamal Kaur and PK Jaiswar
Jalandhar/Amritsar, Jan 31
The Income Tax Department on Tuesday conducted raids on Pentecostal churches at several places in Punjab in connection with alleged unaccounted foreign funding, illegal transfer of money and tax evasion.
The premises were linked with pastors Bajinder Singh of Tajpur village (Jalandhar), Harpreet Deol of Khojewal village (Kapurthala) and Avtar Singh, alias Bittu Patakhiawala, of Kot Khalsa (Amritsar). The raids started simultaneously at the premises of all three pastors around 6 am. Deol runs The Open Door Church in Kapurthala. Bajinder Singh is said to be associated with offshore centres in Dubai, Fiji and Mauritius, besides locally in New Chandigarh, Fazilka, Moga, Patiala, Gurdaspur and Amritsar in the name of The Church of Glory and Wisdom. Sources said Avtar Singh was a government teacher posted at Neshta village. He owns a palatial house at Kot Khalsa and another building located opposite to his house. He was reportedly associated with Bajinder. The department officials conducted raids in Amritsar, Jalandhar, Bathinda and other parts of the state. The officials, accompanied by BSF personnel, checked documents of properties, bank accounts etc. They reportedly sought details of all sources of income from the pastors.
The pastors, reportedly engaged in “miracle healing”, have a huge following mostly from the Dalit community and poor sections. They broadcast their prayers on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram to reach out to their followers in India and abroad. They have even shared their bank account and UPI details for receiving donations and offerings online. With officials keeping mum, the details of the raids were not available immediately.
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