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Goan Churches under Scrutiny – Priests upset over the I-T Notices to the Church Calling it a ‘Selective Targeting’

Goan priests are very much upset on the Income Tax department’s notices to the Church claiming it a ‘Selective Targeting’ of the religious institutions under the Archdiocese of Goa and Daman. According to them, the notices have been issued only to the Christian churches and not to the other religious institutions in Goa. The Dean of Mormugao Deanery Fr. Vital Miranda condemned the ruling government’s act calling it partial.

Goa is always been one of the most secular place in India and matter concerning to the religion has never been made as the political issues by the politicians unlike the other states in India. But the demonetization has come as a blow to this secularism. According to the Priest, recent notices issued by the Income Tax department to the religious institutions have become the matter of partial treatment to selective religious institutions in Goa. “Asking information is not bad as we are a public institute and have been duly submitting all our audited accounts. Also, we are not against PM Narendra Modi’s decision on black money, but asking for cash book details and selectively from the Christian community is incorrect and needs to be condemned,” Miranda said.

According to Fr. Miranda, he is not blaming the government but he has inquired around to find out whether the other religious institutions have also been served with the notices by Income Tax department. ““I inquired from other religious institutions in Vasco and came to know that no trust or any other religious institutions have been served I-T notices and we were made to run to the Bishop’s House to submit all copies of cash book as on November 7, 8 and 9, 2016, as if we would help in converting black money to white, which is incorrect. I, as dean of all the Churches in Mormugao, have been visiting all the churches regularly and even checked their accounts and everything is proper and without any suspicion if they send such notices then it upset all of us,” he said.        

“As responsible citizens, we will give all the details.  But why did they suddenly ask us to submit the details? Why have they only targeted churches and not others? This notice has sent a wrong message to the Christian community leaving people upset and thus we have now decided to approach our MLAs and Ministers from Mormugao taluka as to what is their view and stand on such I-T notices given only to the church body.” he added.     

Similarly, the Parish Priest of St Andrew’s Church Vasco, Fr Gabriel Coutinho also condemned the act of ruling government saying, “I don’t know whether we are being targeted or not, but if the notices were issued to us then why not to all religious institutions? If it is in right directions then why only to churches, our people are not happy at all.”

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It looks like the above matter is going to be the major issue of concern in the future as the ruling government’s approach is not welcomed by the Christian community of Goa. The ruling BJP government may need to give an explanation on this issue to make sure that they do not make one section of the society feel that they have been treated in a partial manner. 

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