'Kalki Bhagwan' in soup as I-T dept alleges tax evasion

Unholy tales
Last Updated 19 October 2019, 04:22 IST

Self-styled godman ‘Kalki Bhagwan’, who has a dedicated following in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, has evaded tax to the tune of Rs 500 crore, an investigation by the Income Tax department has revealed.

Huge amount of cash – Rs 43.9 crore in Indian rupee and 18 crores in US dollars -- and 88 kg of gold valued at 26 crores have been recovered from the premises owned by the godman and his son, Krishna, during the raids that began on Wednesday.

‘Kalki Bhagwan’ is popular in the aforesaid three southern states with a dedicated following among men and women and runs ashrams across South India. Karnataka also has several Kalki Bhagwan and Amma Bhagwan ashrams across the state.

I-T sleuths had swooped down on more than 40 premises, including ashrams owned by the godman, in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh on Wednesday based on a specific input that ‘Kalki Bhagwan’ and his son have evaded tax to the tune of crores of rupees.

Sources in the I-T department told DH that incriminating documents recovered from ashrams and other premises owned by the father-son duo have shown that they have evaded tax to the tune of Rs 500 crores. The sources said the raids were conducted based on a specific input that Krishna is said to have made huge investments in ventures of his associates in which tax evasion is suspected. The information was that Krishna has re-routed funds from the ashram owned by his father to his companies, the sources said.

“Cash and gold recovery was huge. They were recovered from the ashrams owned by the godman. Documents were seized from both ashrams and premises owned by the duo,” a senior official said.

However, a statement issued on behalf of the ashram dismissed “various news angles of the I-T raids” as untrue, even while admitting that raids did take place. “Usually for any developing organisation the government keeps track to ensure the functioning is under legal terms. It is only on those terms that there has been an investigation in Ekam, Nemam and Satyaloka,” the statement said.

“Bhagavad Dharma (the ashram) respects our nation’s laws and if our government finds that any of the activity is not as per the law, then we will abide by the government and face it legally,” it added.

The ashram has been in the news for several bad reasons besides being accused of minting money as an ordinary darshan of a couple is priced at Rs 5,000 and special darshan at Rs 25,000. The self-styled godman also faces allegations of land grabbing in Chittoor district in Andhra Pradesh where he has built a sprawling ashram.

Born as Vijayakumar Naidu, Kalki Bhagwan began his career as a clerk with Life Insurance Corporation of India and started a residential school called Jeevashram in Chittoor along with a friend. In the 1990s, Kalki Bhagwan became quite popular in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh with thousands of devotees thronging his ashram near Chennai.

(Published 18 October 2019, 19:05 IST)

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