US Money for Hindu Extremism

By Ibrahim Sajid Malik, New York and Arif Azad, London
translated by Zulfiqar Ahmad, December 4, 2002 original story here

Photo: RSS has been accused of spreading religious violence

According to NGOs and independent political workers, many relief organizations working in India are using funds collected in America and Europe to support extremist Hindu parties.

According to a report published by two NGOs associated with India - South Asia Citizen Web and Subrang Communications - India Development and Relief Fund (IDRF), which is registered in Maryland, USA, as a tax-exempt organization, gives 80 percent of its funds to organizations advocating Hindutva ,while only 20 percent is given to actual relief organizations.

The report entitled "Foreign Exchange of Hatred" has alleged that this organization which collects money for relief, welfare and development work is not secular; rather, it fans communalism and extremism and, towards that end, it has so far provided about 5 million (50 Lakh) dollars.

BOX: "We have arrived at the conclusion that this money gets into the hands of extremists." Harsh Kapoor

One of the compilers of the report, Harsh Kapoor, told the BCC that this report is the result of extensive research. "Our research was spread over three continents. We considered it necessary to investigate the money collected for relief work from well intentioned people in the US. We came to the conclusion that this money is going into the hands of right wing extremist organizations."

Among those benefiting from IDRF's generosity was the RSS, and organizations related to it, that have been involved in violent activities.

However, IDRF has claimed that it is involved in rural development, social welfare, and the elimination of poverty in cities. A statement issued by this organization states that it has no connection with the RSS and such charges against it have been leveled by left wing sympathizers.

BOX: "We have no connection with the RSS and such charges have been leveled by left wing sympathizers." IDRF

Over 150 forms of documentary evidence, of which income tax forms are the most important, were collected to compile the report. The compilers of the report referred to IDRF's tax forms to say that the nine organizations supported (by IDRF) are related to the RSS and that the founder of the IDRF also has had connections with the RSS.
According to the report, not only had IDRF received $70,000 from Cisco Systems in 1999 (matching funds?), but it has also been collecting money from American companies in the name of promoting secular ideology. The companies contributing to the IDRF include Cisco System, Sun Microsystems, Oracle, and Hewlett Packard. In 1999 alone, Sun Microsystems gave $70,000 to the IDRF. It should be noted that a large number of Indians work at Sun Microsystems.

Political workers have mailed letters along with this report to ten international companies asking them to stop supporting IDRF immediately.

Harsh Kapoor says that he is "hopeful that as a result of our report, a similar movement will start in Britain because right wing Hindu organizations have a lot of influence in Britain." "A movement to stop money going from the US to Extremist groups in India has started in the US, I hope a similar movement will start in Britain." "Muslim and Christian extremist organizations are also involved in similar activities in Britain and Europe."

[there is some formatting error here; what should have been a box is made part of the text Z.A.]

Since September 11th, the American government has banned many Muslim charities accused of providing funds to terrorist forces.

The report also states that "documentary evidence shows that IDRF has provided money to extremist groups in at least three states. In Gujarat, IDRF provided funds to Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram. This organization was involved in killing of and attacks against about 2000 Christians in 1998. The same organization has been involved in the recent massacre of Muslims in Gujarat.

BOX: "Sewa International is thought to be connected with extreme right wing organizations in India." Irfan Mustafa.

Commenting on the report, the spokesman for the British Indian Muslim Federation, Irfan Mustafa, states that he has written a letter expressing his concern about funding activities of extremist Hindu organizations. He says that because of this movement, Lord Patel has resigned from the board of an organization named Sewa International.

"Sewa International is thought to be related to Indian right wing extremist organizations and is believed to send money, collected in foreign countries, to groups promoting communalism and sectarianism in India. We have received a reply from the Foreign Office assuring us that serious consideration will be given to our concerns."