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‘Reverend’ held for duping churches
Correspondent
 DIMAPUR, Aug 17 – An unsuccessful theologian who discovered that religion is the easiest path to wealth and became a self-styled Reverend conman has been arrested by Dimapur police for duping 41 churches, Self Help Groups and NGOs to the tune of Rs 18,04,500 by promising to triple their money within a month’s time through overseas Christian aid funds.

The fraudster, belonging to the Poumai tribe, projected himself as Solomon Simte, Regional Director-designate of Lost Souls Ministry and looted gullible churches and other organisations after roping in a so-called woman State-in-charge of the Ministry in Dimapur on December 9, 2009. She was given three month’s probation without salary with the condition that she should introduce the Ministry to at least 100 churches within three month’s time.

The Ministry, according to the accused, had its main headquarters at UK, national HQ in Bangalore and regional HQ in Manipur. He is reported to have said that the money given through the Ministry would be tripled through grant-in-aid from foreign countries. For instance a Rs 15,000 deposit would supposedly see a return of Rs 1-6 lakh within 3-6 months.

Many churches from Tuensang, Mon and Dimapur are reported to have handed over money ranging from thousands to the tune of Rs 5 lakh through the ‘State-in-charge’, who was also apparently not aware of the true nature of her ‘director’.

The accused is also said to have told the churches that the administrative staff from Bangalore would be verifying the projects on July 20, which they obviously failed to do. Getting suspicious, the ‘State in charge’ of the fake Ministry, Hekali Assumi, along with other staff initiated an inquiry which revealed that the Ministry was bogus and there was no headquarters in either in UK, Bangalore or Manipur.

Consequently, an FIR was filed with the Women Cell and the accused, whose actual identity turned out to be KH Shanglang Zhinu (50) of Oinam village and present resident of River Colony, Senapati in Manipur, was arrested from his residence on August 13.

A number of incriminating documents were recovered from the ‘Reverend’s residence while most of the money he had looted from the churches was found to have already been spent on purchase of a house and other personal items.

Following the arrest, police also learnt that the bogus Rev had been planning his own demise after discovering an acknowledgement note meant to be published in the local press stating that he had died on July 18. This move was obviously to facilitate his disappearance.

The accused had earlier been arrested by Kohima police under section 365 IPC in October 2007 but had been bailed out a month later.

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