By Matters India Reporter
Chandigarh, April 2, 2019: An inquiry has been ordered into a Catholic priest’s allegations that the police who had raided his residence have not disclosed the full amount of cash seized from him.
Punjab’s Director General of Police Dinkar Gupta on April 1 marked an inquiry to IGP, Crime, Praveen Sinha, to examine Father Antony Madassery’s reported claims, official sources said in Chandigarh.
After raiding Father Madassery’s residence in Jalandhar on March 29, the police from Khanna said they had seized 96.6 million rupees of unaccounted cash. The police also detained the priest and three others and released them after hours of interrogation on March 30.
Father Madassery, director of “Sahodaya” (rising together), a group of companies, later alleged at a later press conference that the police had actually taken 166.5 million rupees from him. He claimed the money was legally collected from the sale of books in schools of Jalandhar diocese. He also alleged that the police had abducted him at gunpoint.
The Khanna police had claimed they had seized “hawala” or black money from six persons, including Father Madassery, from a location near the GT Road at Doraha in Khanna. They also dismissed the priest’s allegations as baseless. They said the money was seized from SUVs during checking following a tip-off.
The police had also claimed that they had prior information about the movement of hawala money in the vehicles from Jalandhar to Ambala.
The police had handed over the cash and the accused to Income Tax and Enforcement Directorate officials for further investigation.
Father Madassery is a prominent priest of Jalandhar diocese. He and three other priests manage Sahodaya as partners. The companies sell books to the church schools in Punjab, train and employ security persons and construct schools and churches.
Profits from these companies are used for social work such as widow pension, monthly stipend to every family with a disabled member, scholarship for deserving students, and medical aid for the sick.
“The amount of charitable work being carried out is immense,” says Bishop Agnelo Gracias, apostolic administrator of Jalandhar who on April 1 issued a clarification saying Sahodaya is not owned by the diocese.
Father Madassery is also considered a close aide of Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar, who has been accused of raping a Catholic nun in Kerala multiple times during 2014-2016.
The 46-year-old priest is also the director of the Franciscan Missionaries of Jesus, a diocesan congregation started by Bishop Mulakkal.
Meanwhile, the Shiromani Akali Dal, Punjab’s main opposition party, on April 1 urged Punjab’s chief electoral officer to order a probe into the allegation of Father Madassery.
The party alleged that the money was removed with the connivance of the ruling Congress party and it could be used to influence voters during the general elections, reported outlookindia.com.