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

 

 


Breaking News From the UK
Channel 4 Report on Hindutva's Foreign Funding from the UK:
Report Links Sewa International and IDRF Funded Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram Directly to Violence

The Campaign to Stop Funding Hate
P.O. Box 20136 Stanford CA 94309


Breaking News From the UK

Channel 4 Report on Hindutva's Foreign Funding from the UK:

Report Links Sewa International and IDRF Funded Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram Directly to Violence

At 7 PM (GMT) 12/12/02 Channel 4's main News Report of the day carried a detailed story on the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS - the RSS's Overseas Wing), Sewa International (one of the Sangh's flagship Seva Vibhag units and main front in the UK) and its funding of the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram (VKA), implicating the latter (VKA) in the anti-minority violence of March-April 2002. Segments of the transcript are available at: http://www.channel4.com/news/home/z/stories/20021212/guj.html and the full video can be seen at: http://www.channel4.com/news/home/z/stories/20021212/4guj.ram. In an investigation that spanned the UK and Gujarat, India, Channel 4 reporters uncovered the following salient facts:

  1. The HSS and Sewa International are part of the Sangh Parivar. The Sewa International has no claims to being an independent entity unconnected to the Sangh because for all its donation transactions it has simply borrowed the HSS's charity account number.
  2. The Sewa International (SI) funds the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram in Gujarat.
  3. The Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram in Gujarat is directly implicated in the February-March 2002 anti-muslim pogrom. The news report documents "forensic" evidence (by way of an FIR) that implicates a leading member of the VKA, who is currently "on the run from the police," as "leading a mob of 2,000 tribal people" in an attack on muslim minorities. Further, the story also reports that the VKA leader "threatened the villagers saying that if they didn't join in provoking the Muslims and burning them, they would also be treated like Muslims and burnt."
  4. The report also documents how mainstream, respectable organizations have unwittingly supported the SI, and through it the activities of the Sangh, without being fully aware of how the money was being used. SI has been praised by Prince Charles, has recruited four peers as patrons, and has been supported by schools and councils across Britain. Many of its supporters, when confronted with the knowledge of its activities in India, expressed surprise at its connections with the Sangh and remorse at having been associated with it.

The Channel 4 report is a direct confirmation of the evidence and conclusions arrived at by the Campaign to Stop Funding Hate (CSFH). On November 20th a report jointly published by SACW and Sabrang Communications had also linked the India Development and Relief Fund (IDRF), a Maryland, US based charity, with sectarian hate and violence in India and pointed to exactly the same organization - the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram -- as one of IDRF's most significant fund recipients. The Campaign also has maintained that IDRF's claim of being unconnected to the Sangh is fundamentally misleading. IDRF and its affiliates in the US have tried to deny any links to sectarian hate by repeating an unsubstantiated claim that they only fund development. The Channel 4 report is an independent corroboration of the Campaign to Stop Funding Hate's conclusion that IDRF funds sectarian hate programs in India.

With the clear implication of IDRF and SI in the funding of the Sangh and the IDRF/SI funded Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram in the program of sectarianism and violence in India, the IDRF stands completely exposed. As clearly documented in "The Foreign Exchange of Hate" IDRF lists Sewa International as 'IDRF India' and Shyam Parande, the General Secretary of Sewa International, as IDRF Advisor in India (http://www.idrf.org/contacts/contacts.htm#india ). Further, the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram, Gujarat is one of the nine organizations listed in IDRF's tax exemption application with the US Federal government. The Channel 4 report not only implicates the VKA, Gujarat in the violence but also suggests that the absconding VKA leader is himself the person in charge of the work done with the foreign funds.

Responding to the news of the Channel 4 report, Shalini Gera of the Campaign to Stop Funding Hate said: "The evidentiary loop is complete. This far IDRF's only defense was to distance itself from the violence. Now with this report it is time for it to face up to its direct links to the funding of violence." The Campaign to Stop Funding Hate joins its secular compatriots in Awaaz, UK in demanding that the Charity Commissioner of UK withdraw the Sangh's status as a charity as well as renews its demands with MNC's in the US to strike IDRF from its list of charities. As Ali Mir, a member of the CSFH put it: "the case is sealed."

The Channel 4 report is produced by Rob Lemkin (rl@oldstreetfilms.com) and Arlen Harris (arlen@harris-vajda.demon.co.uk).

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