A Catholic bishop has been booked for duping people of Rs.3 crores in exchange for a permanent teaching post in church-run schools. 20 people fell for this scam and gave money to him in the period of 2009 to 2017. The priest and his accomplices are absconding.
Ramesh Kumar, a resident of Madurai and a follower of the Tamil Evangelical Lutheran Church, has filed a complaint accusing a priest of conning him and 20 others of Rs.3 crores. He came to know the then Trichy TELC bishop HA Martin in 2009. The bishop claimed that the church is facing legal issues in High Court and Supreme Court and is in need of funds to take care of its affairs.
He asked for Rs.1.5 crores and promised to give permanent teaching positions in the schools under the church’s control. Ramesh collected money from 20 people and gave it to the bishop. While giving the money the bishop’s wife Jeeva Jyoti and brother Henry Rajasekar were present and assured him of finding teaching positions. Even though they didn’t fulfill their promise, Ramesh arranged another Rs.1.5 crore when the bishop asked for funds in 2013.
But the bishop, his wife, and the brother failed to secure jobs as promised and didn’t return the money either. Ramesh has filed a complaint against bishop Martin, Jeeva Jyoti, and Henry Rajasekar and sought to recover the money from them. Trichy Crime Branch police have booked the three and are on the lookout for them as they are absconding.
In 2021, another TELC bishop was accused of promising government-paid teaching positions in church-run institutions in exchange for money and conversion to Christianity. His critics accused him of accepting a bribe of Rs.34 lakh to appoint one Hemavathi as a teacher in the school and converting her overnight to give her the job.
The Tamil Evangelical Lutheran Church is a popular Christian denomination in Bharat and was established in 1919. It is headquartered in Tiruchirappalli and runs many educational and medical institutions across Tamil Nadu. It has established more than 200 churches, schools, 40 orphanages and homes for the destitute, 4 eye care hospitals, and an Arts and Science college.
The Tamil Evangelistic Lutheran Church (TELC) operates in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Andaman, Pondicherry and Karnataka. Followers of the church estimate the value of its properties to be around Rs.15,000 crore. TELC, an FCRA registered NGO receives Rs.4-5 crores every year. From 2015-2020 it has received Rs.21.66 crores from foreign donors.
All the institutions run by TELC are accorded minority status and thus are eligible to receive government aid. Teachers appointed in the institutions are paid by the government and incase of them being priests or nuns they are exempted from TDS. All these institutions are eligible for the Infrastructure Development in Minority Institutes(IDMI) scheme that offers upto 50 lakhs or 75% of the estimate for expansion of infrastructure.