A government investigation into self-styled 'godman' Asaram Bapu's finances has revealed that he has been holding undisclosed income of at least ₹2,300 crore since 2008-09, for which he is yet to pay tax. The 75-year-old is in jail after he allegedly raped a 16-year-old girl at his ashram near Jodhpur in Rajasthan three years ago.
Unnamed sources in the Income Tax department told The Indian Express that Bapu had loaned the money out in cash "with post-dated cheques, promissory notes and land-purchase deeds as security". "We suspect that the scheme was used by Asaram and his followers to conceal donations received by the ashrams,” they told Express.
The investigation revealed that Bapu and his followers had acquired seven Kolkata-based private companies through which they allegedly did “benami investments” that ran into several crores. Bapu allegedly loaned money to several individuals and builders at a low interest rate since 1991.
However, his followers have claimed that Bapu doesn't own any assets, and that everything is in the name of the trust he runs, and is the property of his followers. Meanwhile, the income tax department investigation has revealed that in the last two decades, Bapu and his followers declared only about one-tenth of the donations they received at the 400 ashrams across India, Express reported. Next month, the Rajasthan High Court is expected to hear a petition from Bapu, who does not want to give a statement on the ongoing tax evasion investigation against him.
Also See On HuffPost: