Dubai: A high-profile Indian priest-cum businessman has been arrested in Dubai for allegedly duping a member of the royal family, Gulf News has learnt.
The chief priest of a temple in Panchavati area of Nashik city in Maharashtra, India, the 54-year-old was reportedly taken into custody at Dubai airport on March 7 while trying to leave the country.
He was taken to a police station only to be released on bail hours later following diplomatic efforts of the Consulate General of India office in Dubai, according to reports.
It is being alleged that the priest, who has some business interests in the UAE, misused the name of a member of a royal family to raise funds.
We provided assistance as we normally do in other cases involving Indians. At times there are language barriers. We help overcome them by providing interpreters. We did send a representative from our office to the police station, but we did nothing out of turn.
His arrest has been widely reported in Indian media, with some reports suggesting that the Indian Consul General intervened to secure his release.
However, Vipul, Consul General of India, denied interfering with the course of justice. “We provided assistance as we normally do in other cases involving Indians. At times there are language barriers. We help overcome them by providing interpreters. We did send a representative from our office to the police station, but we did nothing out of turn,” Vipul told Gulf News.
Vipul said he’s not aware of the details of the case or the charges against the priest.
“All I know is that he has a business dispute with his partner and was arrested on his complaint while he was leaving the UAE,” Vipul said.
Gulf News could not contact the priest who is now stranded in the UAE as his passport is with Dubai Police.
However, according to Indian media reports, he has told his friends and relatives that he’s stuck in Sharjah as he has lost his passport.
Meanwhile, both the Member of Parliament (MP) and Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) of his hometown have written to the Minister of External Affairs of India Sushma Swaraj to intervene in the matter.
A regular visitor to the UAE, the priest is active on social media. A video clip shared by him on Facebook last year shows him sitting in a plush office in Dubai and announcing the launch of three companies in the UAE.
Besides being one of two directors of an infrastructure company in Mumbai, he is also one of the four directors of another Mumbai-based hospitality company. None of these companies are operative, according to the Registrar of Companies, India, as they had failed to file returns.
In 2009, the priest joined a political party in India and contested the Lok Sabha election which he lost.