THE CAMPAIGN TO STOP FUNDING HATE
An error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation, nor does truth become error because nobody sees it........... Constant development is the law of life, and a man who always tries to maintain his dogmas in order to appear consistent drives himself into a false position........... First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. - Mahatma Gandhi

 

 


"Each time the practices of RSS and its front organizations are brought into focus, RSS tries to shift the focus from the claims and contentions, onto the people challenging the RSS and their motivations."

PRESS RELEASE

Date/Time: Tuesday March 01, 2004

The Campaign to Stop Funding Hate (CSFH) thanks the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) for its statement of February 27th, 2004 clarifying that the India Development and Relief Fund (IDRF) is indeed a “Hindu organization”, closely related to the Sangh Parivar. That has been our claim all along. In contrast to the current RSS statement, the IDRF continues to mislead the public by claiming to be a secular, broad based organization funding “development” and “relief” programs in India. It is nothing more than a US fundraising front for RSS groups in India.

Just as the Foreign Exchange of Hate (FxH) report published by Sabrang in November 2002 showed that IDRF was RSS’ s funding arm in the US, so also the recently released British Report by Awaaz South Asia Watch (www.awaazsaw.org) shows a comprehensive connection between Sewa International UK (SIUK), HSS and the RSS. Just as the IDRF did in November 2002, SIUK and HSS have over the last two days claimed that they have no connection with the RSS. Mere assertion, however, proves nothing.

If the RSS/IDRF wishes to refute the core findings of the FxH report it must do so with evidence. The meticulously detailed FxH report’s (www.stopfundinghate.org/) main findings are:

  • Over 80% of the funds available to IDRF for disbursal between the years 1992 and 2000 were distributed to organizations which form part of the Sangh Parivar. The close links between IDRF and RSS were not acknowledged during that period and have yet to be fully acknowledged by IDRF.
  • IDRF is misleading the public by claiming to raise money for development and relief projects. Many of the charities extensively funded by the IDRF are heavily engaged in promotion of Hindutva. For example, Sewa Bharati MP, which received $77,050 from IDRF in the year 2001 [1] writes in its report to IDRF, dated 11/03/2001 [2]:

    To cultivate faith in our religion in the minds of Tribals Sewa Bharati has picked up 23 Tribal youths and 4 tribal girls, they were sent to Ayodhya to undergo training in "Shri RamKatha Pravachan" (Discourses of Ramayan). This training lasted 8 months under the guidance of special Saints and Mahatmas. Now "Anubhav Varga" has been formed at Jashpur Nagar, from where groups of two will visit 5 days in each five villages. They will live in the villages and propagate "RamKatha".

IDRF is directly implicated in violence against minorities because of its long and continuing support of the various Vanvasi Kalyan Ashrams. The FxH report highlighted the case of Swami Aseemanand, of Vanvasi Kalyan Parishad, Gujarat, who was instrumental in creating the atmosphere of terror and fear amongst the Christian communities in the Dangs in 1998, 1999, where he conducted forcible conversions of Christians, and also organized large-scale rallies on Christian religious days. After the Gujarat carnage of 2002, the Swami has resurfaced in the Dangs again, as the head of the Mata Shabari Sewa Samiti and is reportedly holding Ram Kathas which are accompanied by extensive anti-Christian pamphleteering by the VHP, and have been attended by Narendra Modi and his cabinet minister, Karsan Patel, amongst others [3]. The IDRF has yet to explain its relation to Vanvasi Kalyan Parishad which is listed as “IDRF supported project in Gujarat” and is part of the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram family, which received $63,205 from IDRF in 2001 [4].

If the RSS/IDRF wishes to refute the above findings, they will have to place before the public evidence that contradicts the main findings of the FxH report.

Instead of directly challenging any of the claims of the FxH report, IDRF/ RSS have been content to question the motivations of the authors of the report, and label it as “malicious propaganda.” This pattern is again evident in the RSS response to the UK group Awaaz-South Asia Watch’s report on Sewa International UK and its ties with the RSS. Each time the practices of RSS and its front organizations are brought into focus, RSS tries to shift the focus from the claims and contentions, onto the people challenging the RSS and their motivations. We welcome the media to check our credentials—the CSFH collective consists of professionals and academicians from the Indian diaspora, belonging to different religious faiths and political persuasions, who have a long history of being actively involved in many struggles for social and economic justice. However, we feel that the interests of the public are better served if the focus remains on the data presented in the report, and an examination of its conclusions, rather than the credentials of the authors and supporters.

[1] Form 990, Return of Organization Exempt from Tax, 2001 filed by IDRF, available at www.guidestar.org
[2] Letter from Vishnu Kumar, Kshetra Sewa Pramukh, Sewa Bharati dated 11/03/2001 http://www.idrf.org/appeals/GujEQ/docs/mp_report.html
[3] Gujarat mantri threatens Dangs Christians, by Deepal Trivedie, Oct 23, 2002 available at http://www.sabrang.com/gujarat/23oct02.htm , Dangs’ tribals get a dose of Modi’s Hindutva by Tanushree Chakraborty, Indian Express, Oct 23, 2002 http://www.indianexpress.com/full_story.php?content_id=11842 and VHP pamphleteering worries Christians in Dangs, by Manas Dasgupta, The Hindu, Oct 25, 2003 http://www.hinduonnet.com/thehindu/2002/10/25/stories/2002102506051100.htm
[4] Form 990, Return of Organization Exempt from Tax, 2001 filed by IDRF, available at www.guidestar.org


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