In what is being reported as one of the biggest scams in the country, Bishop Peter Baldev of the Church of North India and many others are accused of selling land worth Rs 10,000 crores in Prayagraj and surrounding areas.
As per reports, Bishop Peter Baldev and 16 others were booked yesterday in an FIR filed by John Augustine, the Bishop of Diocese of Lucknow, The Church of India, Pakistan, Burma and Ceylon at the civil lines police station in Lucknow.
It is notable here that there have been many complaints in the past regarding land scams, forgery and illegal selling of land using falsified documents done by Christian societies and many office bearers of the Diocese of Lucknow have been named in those complaints. The persons named in the FIR also reportedly include officials and board members in many Christian private schools in the region.
The complainant Bishop John Augustine has stated that in 1970, some Bishops of Church of India had constituted Church of North India Trust Association. Later, using fraudulent means, the post of Bishop of Calcutta was created.
He further added the same people in 1991, spread this fake organisation and transferred the properties belonging to Indian Church Trustees, worth Rs 1000 crore, to the Church of North India Trust Association. The properties reportedly include church properties in prime locations in Lucknow, Prayagraj and lands in surrounding rural areas.
The accused in the case have allegedly sold the church properties using fraudulent means and have pocketed the proceedings worth about 10,000 crores among themselves.
Apart from Bishop Peter Baldev, 16 other persons namely, P.C. Singh, P.P. Marandi, P.K. Samanto Roy, general secretary Alwin Masih, Jayant Agarwal, Pal Dupahre, P.P. Habil, Suresh Jacob, Rajiv Chand, A.R. Stephen, H.R. Mal, Marvin Masih, Prem Masih, Ashok Vishwas, Prabal Dutta and Shashi Prakash have been named in John Augustine’s FIR.
In 2006, forty-one former students of the Jamuna Christian College and officials of the North India Synod had accused the Lucknow Diocesan Trust Association of illegally leasing out school and college properties worth crores and misappropriating funds.
The complainant has also stated that there have been many such cases where Christian organisations have been fighting among themselves over land scams and forgery cases. It is notable here that Christian organisations are one of the biggest landowners in India, apart from Indian Railways and the Waqf Board.