An image of stacks of cash piled upon a table, claiming to show ₹7000 crore recovered by IT team after alleged raids on Kerala Believers Eastern Church is going viral on social media platforms. The post also claims that Bishop Johanan Wagyara of the church has been arrested by the Enforcement Directorate.
Newschecker team received several requests on our WhatsApp Helpline (+91 9999499044) for fact-checking this claim.
The claim is viral on both Twitter and Facebook.
Fact Check/ Verification
On a quick verification, Newschecker found that the social media posts, claiming raids on Kerala Believers Eastern Church, was shared extensively earlier in November, 2020 as well. Twitter User Kavita Tewari tweeted this claim which garnered 1,777 likes and 839 retweets.
This claim of alleged raids on Kerala Believers Eastern Church was revived in May, 2021 by Twitter user Subhash Pandey T.A.B. which garnered over 3000 likes and 2675 retweets.
Newschecker team was led to news reports from November 5, 2020 through a keyword search of the claim. It was reported that the Income Tax Department conducted raids on Kerala Believers Eastern Church on November 5, 2020.
The Hindu reported that the Income Tax “Officials said unexplained cash of approximately ₹6 crore was recovered during the searches, which also included ₹3.85 crore from a place of worship in Delhi.”
Using this as a clue, Newschecker checked the Ministry of Finance website and found an Income Tax Department press release from November 6, 2020 which said that Rs. 6 crores were seized during the raid.
A Mathrubhumi article on the same issue published images which are similar to the viral claim.
Furthermore, Newschecker’s keyword search also revealed that the priest in the viral image is the Bishop of the church K.P. Yohannan, and not Bishop Johanan Wagyara. On extensively researching the incident, we also found no reports of any arrest made against the Bishop as was claimed.
The viral claim that Income Tax Officials found Rs. 7000 core in raids on Kerala Believers Eastern Church is misleading. The raid was conducted two years ago in 2020, but only Rs. 6 crore was seized from the church. Newschecker also found that the man in the picture is K.P. Yohannan, and not Bishop Johanan Wagyara.
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