Mumbai (Web Desk) – The Income Tax department of India has recommended cancellation of the tax breaks given to charitable trusts controlled by self-styled Hindu ‘godman’ Asaram Bapu.
According to The Indian Express, the recommendation of the IT department comes on the basis of a probe which revealed that the trusts had been concealing an annual income worth Rs 2,300 crore since 2008-09.
Sources revealed that the tax department has also unearthed numerous “benami investments” allegedly linked to Asaram and his followers, amounting to several crores.
An appraisal report prepared by the investigation wing of the IT department has also found that Asaram allegedly ran an illegal lending scheme through his followers. Under the scheme, ordinary people were offered cash loans at a monthly interest rate of 1-2 per cent.
Asaram is currently in jail for allegedly assaulting a 16-year-old girl at his ashram.
Refuting the IT department’s allegation, spokesperson of Sant Shri Asaramji Ashram said: “This is a conspiracy against Bapuji and a direct attack on Hindu dharma. Bapuji does not have any assets, he does not even own a car. Every asset is in the name of the trusts and belongs to his followers. He is the biggest Hindu saint in the world. He has been in jail for three years but no charges have been proved till now.”
The Rajasthan High Court will hear a petition filed by Asaram on July 13 and record his statements for the ongoing tax investigations. Earlier, Bapu has rejected an attempt by IT officials to record his statement.