Godmen’s magic has no religious borders

via Pioneer News Service | Kozhikode/Thiruvananthapuram published on May 22, 2008

Disputes over secularism are common in the political front, but the police and tax authorities seem to be secular as far as their actions against fraudster-godmen are concerned.

Two Hindu godmen are already in remand in the prison for fraud or violation of law, and action had already been taken against a god-woman who based her clairvoyance capacities and mystical methods on Christianity. A court in Thiruvananthapuram has issued warrant against a pastor of Pentecost Church in a case relating to cheating of a woman lawyer of Rs 15 lakh.

Now the Income Tax Department, Intelligence sleuths are training their scanners on two prayer-healers from Kottayam district who started a healing session at Putharikkandam grounds in Thiruvananthapuram on Thursday. ‘Swargeeya Virunnu’ (Heavenly Feast), the forum, under which Brother Tanku and Brother Thomas Kutty perform their prayer-healing, claims to provide cure for diseases with no known cure in the medical field.

Legal experts point out that this practice is illegal as the Drugs and Magic Remedies Act of 1954 had banned such sessions. But there is no stopping the two ‘brothers’ who do not want to talk to the Press about their activities or the sources of their huge incomes.

The ‘brothers’ had issued huge advertisements through newspapers on the session that started in Thiruvananthapuram on Thursday. In these advertisements, at least 20 persons including women, had explained their unbelievable experience by certifying that they had attained cure by attending their healing session.

Intelligence agencies are reportedly after the ‘brothers’ as they are surprised by the volume of money the prayer-healers are making. Sources in the Income Tax Department said they were keeping a close watch of the activities of the ‘brothers’ and their foreign tours.

However, the healers say they have nothing to hide or to speak to the Press about. While Income Tax sources say that the duo had amassed at least Rs 20 crore from unknown sources, the ‘brothers’ say they had remitted the mandatory income tax. Still, the IT Department is not convinced of the sources of this income.

Meanwhile, social and political organisations on Thursday held marches to the headquarters of the ‘brothers’ at Nagambadam, Kottayam.

The Intelligence wing of the State police is closely watching the prayer-healing activities of Sunni Muslim godman Ustad Kareem of Kalamthode, Kozhikode. Four years ago, Kareem was running a bicycle repairing shop in the same place but now he is living in a palatial residence, the compound of which is protected by eight-feet-high painted walls and he uses luxury cars for his travels. Kareem is now Ustad, and though several neighbours harbour complaints against him they are afraid of filing any formal appeal with the authorities.

Like the Kottayam-based Christian ‘brothers’, the Ustad also promises cure ailments through prayer. Though people are convinced that Kareem performs the miracles through prayer and ‘water treatment’, he denies the use of water. “There is only prayer-healing here. No water. Who told you I am using water for curing ailments?” he asks.

But people in the neighbourhood contradict this. Those who are running small shops near the prayer-healing facility in Kalamthode say that almost all the people coming here seeking cure take plastic cans from them for taking water from the Ustad’ house. A shopkeeper said the Ustad perhaps knew that treatment using water as medicine could lead him to a trap due to medical regulations.

Separate healing sessions are held in different halls for men and women. The Ustad himself provides food for those seek cure at his facility. This is one of the mysteries that surprise the neighbours.

“He is claiming that he does not take any fee from those come here seeking help. He does not go around requesting contributions. Still he lives royally in a palatial house, travels in costly luxury cars and gives food all the three times a day to all those who come here,” said an autorikshaw driver.

However, Ustad Kareem sticks to his Sunni beliefs. He requests mediamen not to videograph him since he lives according to Sunni beliefs. He has fixed a board at the entrance to his house asking Mujahids, Jama’at-e-Islami and Tablig believers to keep away. Several organisations including Solidarity Youth Movement have demanded probe action against the Ustad.

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