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Bishop Dharmaraj Rasalam nabbed at airport

By Mary Ann Mueller
VOL Special Correspondent
July 27, 2022

There is one Anglican primate who received his invitation to Lambeth 2022 and gave his RSVP but is unable to attend because the Indian government stopped him at the Thiruvananthapuram International Airport in Kerala, South India from boarding a London-bound plane.

Bishop Dharmaraj Rasalam the Moderator of the Church of South India and the VI Bishop of South Kerala was detained by officers of The Enforcement Directorate.

The Enforcement Directorate, headquartered in New Delhi, is a combined Indian law enforcement agency and economic intelligence agency responsible for enforcing economic laws and fighting economic crime in India. It is part of the Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance, Government Of India.

Bishop Rasalam has been on the radar for a decade since 2012. He has been VI Bishop of South Kerala since 2011 and Moderator (Primate) of the Church of South India since 2020.

The Church of South India's bishop has been allegedly implicated in various civil and criminal cases attributed to financial irregularities and abuse of power with regard to corruption allegations at the Church of South India's Dr. Somervell Memorial Medical College in Karakonam.

On Monday (July 25) the Enforcement Directorate conducted predawn raids at the Church of South India diocesan offices in Kerala, the medical college offices in Karakonam, and the residences of Church Secretary TP Praveen in Sabha, and Dr. Somervell Memorial Medical College Director Bennet Abraham in Karakonam. On Tuesday (July 26) Bishop Rasalam was stopped at the airport and prevented from flying to England to attend the Lambeth Conference. On Wednesday (July 27) the bishop was called before the Enforcement Directorate to face charges and answer questions.

Bishop Rasalam faces 13 criminal cases of fraud and theft of church assets for allegedly selling admission places to aspiring medical students.

The scam includes selling 24 medical school placements each for ₹6,000,000 (€74,200; £62,300; $75,000-US). In addition to forging 11 community certificates needed to help students gain admission to the school.

In March Bishop Rasalam was also accused by the Central Bureau of Investigation, India's top law enforcement agency, for allegedly pledging ₹200,000,000 (€2,400,000; £2,100,000; $2,500,000-US) in church assets to the Canara Bank in Thiruvananthapuram without church approval and pocketing the proceeds.

The concern was should Bishop Rasalam fly to England for the 2022 Lambeth Conference he would not return to India to face criminal allegations.

CSITA Stakeholders Association General-Secretary Jacob Mathew told The New Indian Express that: It is learnt that Bishop Rasalam will not return to India, so as to avoid the criminal cases pending against him. He has enough support from the foreign churches to keep him away from our judicial system.

The Church of South India Trust Association (CSITA) Director board is the highest administrative body in Church of South India.

"As I said earlier, 25 people have filed cases against the medical college regarding capitation and the case was in the court. The Enforcement Directorate wants to know more about the case. We are happy to clarify, they are questioning the bishop and he is happy to give answers to their questions," a Church of South India spokesman said.

Mary Ann Mueller is a journalist living in Texas. She is a regular contributor to VirtueOnline

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