It is a bad time for DGS Dhinakaran group. Only in the third week of January, the Income Tax had conducted a four-day raid spanning over 28 locations in Tamil Nadu and Kerala including residence and offices of evangelist Paul Dhinakaran and his Jesus Calls ministry. Now it is on headlines for illegal construction of churches that have been coming up in large numbers in several localities in and around Nallurvayal over the last 10 years.
This Jesus Calls ministry and Karunya University (autonomous) have been accused of encroaching forest lands, elephant corridors and indulging in forced conversion of Tribals and taking over their land. Following tax evasion complaints, Income Tax authorities conducted raids on them last month. Paul Dhinakaran is believed to be in Canada. He is accused of giving funds to a major opposition party in Tamil Nadu to meet poll expenses and to the ongoing Farmers’ protest in New Delhi. He was the conduit for the foreign funds into the Bharat through his channels.
Now an RTI query revealed startling information. Tamil Daily Dinamalar carried an extensive article on this recently. Advocate Rangaraj, who has been fighting a legal battle against Karunaya University, sought details under RTI. He said “Prayer halls have come up in Madwarayapuram, Puluvapatti, Ikkarai, Poluvampati, Alanthurai panchayats in Coimbatore district and many new churches around them in the last 10 years. He said many prayer halls and churches are being built in and around Nallurvayal. The evangelists changed the name to Karunya Nagar without government approval and have been using in their communications. They have even put up signage to this effect”.
RTI reply revealed that the churches and prayers have been constructed without approval from the respective panchayats. Rangaraj filed the query seeking information on whether the 18 churches and prayer halls in these four panchayats were built with the approval of the local administration. The Information Officer (IO) of Madavarayapuram and Puluvapatti panchayats responded to the query. They said no permission was given for churches and prayer halls over the last ten years. They also said that the Pentecostal Mission, Holy Innocence, Agape Prayer hall, Mother Karunya Cathedral, Annai Velankanni Church, Madha Prayer Hall, Divine learning Mandap and CSI in Madvarayapuram area and several others, including the Christ Church, Bethesda International Prayer Hall, did not have requisite approvals from local body administration. Rangaraj said no response has been received so far on similar petitions seeking information on two churches located in the Poluvampatti panchayat.
Locals say that feasts with biryani are being organized at all churches, prayer halls every Sunday to woo the tribal people. This is a bite to be used to convert them into Christianity.
Indu Makkal Katchi founder Arjun Sampath alleged that Karunya is building these churches only for religious conversion. He said “if we complain, the police in connivance with Karunya refuse to register any complaints. Already Kanyakumari and Thoothukudi districts are under Church administration. Now Coimbatore, it seems, is also on its way to becoming like Kanyakumari and Thoothukudi districts. Even during Corona pandemic days, there were attempts to convert people in community prayer halls. But police when informed only filed cases for lockdown norm violations and turned down conversion complaints. We appeal to the Tamil Nadu government to take strict legal actions against Paul Dhinakaran and his institutions.
Karunya University Vice-Chancellor Mannar Jawahar denied the allegations by saying Karunya did not built any illegal structures. Karunya is a charity institution and is serving the community through educational, hospitals and places of worship.
District collector Rajamani told media persons that new construction is not allowed in the middle of residential areas as there have been no clear guidelines for this in the past. All the temples, churches, cathedrals, prayer halls are being closely monitored for any law and order violations. I will look into your RTI information and will answer later”.
Meanwhile, members of the Nallur Vayal Pathukappu Amaippu ( Nallur Vayal protection group) staged a Road stir without police permission on Siruvani-Alanthurai Road on 3rd February demanding the name of the place to be made Nallur Vayal. They refused to leave the spot and sat on the road in protest. They said the place was called Nallur Vayal before the University came there. They allege that in several government records, it is being referred to as Nallur Vayal but over years the village got to be called as Karunya Nagar named after the university. The name boards of the Post office and Police station also refers to be locality as Karunya Nagar. Police denied them permission to take out a procession which was planned to attract the attention of the state government.