Tax-Free Luxury Mercedes Benz for Forced Conversion
On 27 May, self-styled Christian godman Pastor Dominic D’Souza of the 5 Pillars Church in Siolim, accused of forced conversion, was arrested by Goa police. The Goa road transport department, which had illegally granted a tax waiver for D’Souza’s Mercedes Benz car in 2014, wants the pastor to pay them back. The Goa administration sealed his residence.
As per existing laws, charitable trusts and NGOs are exempted from road tax. D’Souza took unfair advantage of the laws, misused this provision to purchase a luxury vehicle, and claimed tax benefits. During a transport department hearing on 9 June, D’Souza sought time to reply, and the matter was adjourned for a final hearing on 16 June. The accused pastor who used luxury vehicles to indulge in forced conversion to Christianity will have to pay the state nearly 5 lakh rupees.
Forced Conversion to Christianity
In May, D’Souza and his wife Joan were arrested by Mapusa police after locals Nikhil Shetye and Prakash Khobrekar filed separate complaints. They alleged that the duo lured people by offering them cash or promising relief from long-term ailments using black magic. The couple operated from Saligao village, around 20 km from Panaji.
The police charged the pastor and his wife under Indian Penal Code sections for promoting enmity between different groups on religious grounds, indulging deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings, and under the drugs and magic provisions remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act.
Interestingly, after his arrest, the same pastor who claimed he had powers to heal long-term ailments got admitted to a hospital after complaining of high blood pressure. The next day, D’Souza arranged conditional bail from the Mapusa judicial first class magistrate on medical grounds. Court ordered them to furnish a personal bail bond of just Rs 10,000 and released them. The fraudulent couple did not spend a single minute in jail, and it is unknown on what basis Joan got bail.
5 Pillars Christian Church demeaned Hindu Bhagwans and lured Hindus to accept the religious sect professed and propagated by them. D’Souza has a history of targeting not just local Hindus but also poaching other Catholic Christians to join his cult. Local Christians said that D’Souza and his followers used to disturb their local church prayers by using loudspeakers without permission.
Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said the Goa government had seized his house where the alleged activities had occurred. He said the religious conversion would not be allowed in the state, and his administration would take strict action against those involved in such activities.
History of Crime
5 Pillars church is situated just next to the Tropa church in Mapusa. D’Souza and his cult followers used loudspeakers without permission when Tropa church used to conduct their prayers. The intention was to disturb their prayer sessions. Locals complained, and police seized the public address systems.
D’Souza claimed that his fundamental rights were being trampled upon. He tried to instigate communal tensions by dragging in political motives. The fake pastor also noted that he had been conducting prayers in the area for the past 17 years and claimed that he did nothing illegal. This incident happened in 2012.
The fraud missionary couple uses ‘healing’, ‘exorcism’, and other theatrics to deceive the poor in and around the Siolim area in Goa. They would linger around government hospitals to evangelize to suffering patients and many hospitals have put up posters prohibiting them. Joan has a habit of filing false cases against Hindus who dare oppose their evil ways.