Income Tax sleuths raid pastor Ankur Narula’s churches in Punjab
With nearly two weeks left for the Jalandhar by-elections, the Income Tax (I-T) department Tuesday conducted raids on the premises linked to the pastor Ankur Narula in Punjab’s Jalandhar district.
The I-T teams searched Church of ‘Signs and Wonders’, a ministry church under Pentecostal churches run by pastor Ankur Narula, at Khambra village on Jalandhar-Nakodar road in connection with a money transaction. It is learnt that nearly a dozen places, including the branches of Pastor Ankur Narula Church, were raided by the central agency simultaneously in the state.
Sources in Pentecostal Churches of Punjab said that the I-T raids could be the result of the newly formed first Christian political party – United Punjab Party – extending support to the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Punjab. This political party was announced by the Pentecostal Christian Community Parbandhak Committee which has around 1,550 members on its roll, all priests and pastors of various denominations of church across the state.
The party was formed on April 3 ahead of Jalandhar bypoll on May 10, aimed at focusing on Christians’ issues which have been pending since decades. When AAP agreed to fulfill those demands, the newly formed party of the Christians decided to withdraw their candidate and announced support to AAP in the elections. This move was not liked by the BJP because the population of Christians in Punjab may be 1.5 per cent of the total but the “believers” (who are converted to Christianity by heart) are nearly 15 per cent of the total population in the state.
This church is in competition with other such churches, which bore the brunt of the I-T raids recently. On January 31 the premises of two other ministry churches run by pastors Bajinder Singh from Jalandhar and Harpreet Deol from Kapurthala were raided by the IT department. Bajinder Singh runs the Church of Glory and Wisdom in Jalandhar’s Tajpur village, while Harpreet Deol manages the Open Door Church at Khojewala village.
Sources said that the team reached his house, which is located on the premises of Narula’s church, with central security forces at 6 am on Tuesday. Those who were present inside the church were detained inside. The central security forces were put on duty at the main gate of the church.
The officials of Narula’s church could not be contacted for comments while I-T officials confirmed the raid on the condition of anonymity.
Church sources also said that the United Punjab Party was also the outcome of I-T raids on churches in January.
After these raids in January, all the pastors, including Narula, were continuously organising weekly congregations at their respective churches and telling followers that they have not done anything wrong and sought their blessings to come out of I-T net.
After I-T raids on two churches then, the rivalry between such churches had come to the fore when pastor Ankur Narula, who did not face the raid then, in his address said that the two churches (without taking their names) are like a ‘careless student’ who enjoys the whole year and starts studying only when the exams are around and then gets confused as to how to study and where to start from, but he has no fear of any such raids because he has been preparing for the past 10 years. So, don’t worry. Keep everything in your prayers. God will show his mercy always,” he added.
The Pentecostal movement came to Punjab in the 1930s and of late such churches are mushrooming in the state and are allegedly baptising people in huge numbers claiming miracle cure. These churches always try to fetch more and more followers and even poach some from other churches because they adopt the same system to run them, including weekly religious congregations – which are the major events at ministry churches – healing, prophecies, testimonies about curing every problem and disease.