Indian charity in UK funded Gujarat Hindu extremist groups:
By Vijay Dutt
Hindustan Times, December 13 original
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The British TV network Channel 4 News, in an investigative
report, has alleged
that a high-profile Indian charity group SEWA International
has been raising
funds for extreme Hindu groups involved in Gujarat massacre
in the name of riot
SEWA, which has been praised even by Prince Charles and
backed by eminent
British Asians, "has been raising funds for extreme Hindu
groups involved in the
massacre," the channel alleged in the special report
telecast on the eve of
"We show that some of its donations are channelled
directly to Hindu
fundamentalists in India," it said.
Jonathan Miller was named as the reporter on unsuspecting
help for violence in
India. He described a meet in west London of "young Hindus
attending a local
branch of the RSS, India's biggest Hindu nationalist group.
Its British arm, the
HSS, is a charity registered here for nearly 30 years. Every
week across Britain
there are 72 meetings like this one."
One Rahul Deolia told him, "As most ethnic minority
youngsters will tell you it's
important to know who you are and where you come from in order
to face the
rest of society that's the way it is and that's how HSS has
helped me coming to
shakha develop a sense of identity."
But the reporter asked the question is the HSS really just
a watered down
version of this?
Up to 60 British volunteers, like Rahul, come to India for
training every year on
funds raised by the HSS charity.
Critics express concern about the organisation's ideology.
But, Lord Desai who is with the London School of Economics
says on the
programme, "The RSS is like a fascist youth movement
like black shirts or
something like that but perhaps with deeper roots because
the RSS has been
there for 75 years plus. "
In that time the RSS has evolved a unique and some say potentially
Chetan Bhatt of the Goldsmith College in London opined:
"The core ideas of the
RSS are based on an ideology called Hindutva or Hindu nationalism.
This was an
idea formed in the 1920s and at the root of it is the idea
that India has to be an
exclusive nation state, where minorities must demonstrate
and obedience to the nation.
Otherwise they will be converted forcibly or removed. So
for example one
But, PV Ruperlia, Secretary HSS (UK) countered: "It boils
up my blood. Hindus in
popular Hindutva slogan is that Muslims in India have only
two places: Pakistan
or kabristan (graveyard).
India have gone through a period of humiliating subjugation
for the past seven
hundred years, we are prepared to forgive for that we can not
The report alleged that the "Hindu nationalist backlash
was immediate (to
Godhra incident), in Gujarat more than 2,000 Muslims were
killed and several
hundred thousand displaced, in the worst communal disturbance
Several inquiries including one by the British High Commission
saw the hand of
the RSS and its associated organisations behind the violence.
Back in Britain, Channel Four News has learned how special
branch responded to
the Gujarat violence: they started a watching brief on the
In addition, the charity commission were alerted to allegations
raised for the HSS in Britain might fund communal violence
In September they announced a formal investigation into
charity. This is focusing on Sewa International, the HSS's
welfare and relief arm,
which raises millions for Indian emergencies and development.
Simon Gillespie, director of operations, Charity Commission,
said: "Our concern
is to make sure that any charity directs its funds properly
to that charitable
cause to make sure that they are not misleading donors in
the process so we
want to make sure there's a very clear line between the money
given here in
the UK and the needy people in Gujarat."
It was claimed that for months Channel Four News had been
The activities of the HSS, how they raise money and what
they do with it. Their
appeal for earthquake victims in Gujarat last year raised
more than £4-million
and could hardly have been more high-profile.
"It earned the praise of the Prince of Wales whose
office wrote that 'the Prince
continues to be most impressed by the excellent work being
done by SEWA
International (and sends his best wishes to all the staff
SEWA recruited four peers as patrons, including President
of the Liberal
Democrat Party Lord Dholakia; and Cabinet minister Paul Boateng,
attended a fund-raising event.
Many donors, the report alleged, have been unaware that
was part of the HSS. That's because SEWA is not actually a
registered charity, it
simply borrows the HSS charity registration number.
Lord Adam Patel who was one of the patrons of the appeal
victims, seems to feel that he has been deceived. "Well,
I was absolutely
shocked. They were involved directly or indirectly in many
communal riots, they
were involved in the destruction of the Ayodhya mosque. So
I said what's going
on? Have I lent my name to the wrong organisation?"
Asked by Channel 4 News: "Does it appear they have
indeed done good work,"
Lord Adam Patel responded: "If they (SEWA) have I congratulate
them, but I
don't approve of their association."
In August, Lord Patel allegedly wrote a letter demanding
details of SEWA's links
The Channel 4 raised the question, "So just what is the
money raised by SEWA
to Hindu nationalist groups in India. When he did not receive
used for in India? And what is its connection with SEWA's parent
HSS and the extremist activities of the RSS in India?
It said: " We logged on to the SEWA International website.
You can make a
donation by credit card. Unless you specify a particular cause,
SEWA will then
pass your money on to any one of a whole host of projects
they support in India
no doubt many of them good works.
"But one of the most high-profile is the Kalyan Ashram,
a project to help the
poorest of the poor in India, the tribal people. The Indian
project's website says
it's 'dedicated to weaning' tribal people 'away from the evil
influence of foreign
missionaries and anti-national forces'."
The Channel then alleged, "We heard about a campaign
by Kalyan Ashram to
convert thousands of tribal people to Hinduism in Gujarat.
campaign started in 1997, the year in which accounts filed
with the Charity
Commission show SEWA International began funding Kalyan Ashram."
Chetan Bhatt added, "The activities of individuals
led to systematic violence for
example attacks on churches the burning down of churches in
towards the end
of 1988 and in 1999, increased violence and hostility towards
population in Gujarat."
The HSS when asked about this by the Channel provided a
Kalyan Ashram in Gujarat which said: "Kalyan Ashram has
never destroyed any
Places of worship."
The TV reporter then wanted to find out whether money given
by British donors
to SEWA International, "apparently to help the poor in
India, could actually end
up funding sectarian violence there". It sent a team
to Gujarat to find out.
There, the team alleges to have heard allegations that "sectarian
The Channel report said that a Hindu activist who had witnessed
Kalyan Ashram was still going on". The team went to the
Baroda region of
Gujarat which was reportedly scene of some of the worst violence.
report said: "Fifty-six people were killed here in just
a few days, hundreds more
injured, 29 mosques were destroyed, thousands were driven
from their homes.
operations at first hand gave it the inside story on the riots.
"We've had to
protect his identity. He told us the local Kalyan Ashram boss
had organised the
attacks in Mohammed Haji 's area. He allegedly threatened villagers
that if they didn't join in provoking the Muslims and burning
them, they would
also be treated like Muslims and burnt.
"And he said the government is on our side, nothing
will happen to you. So the
Kalyan Ashram activists gave the villagers bows and arrows
and revolvers and
But the report admitted that when the Channel 4 team went
to the Ashram boss'
home village his family said he was on the run from the police.
accuse him of leading a mob of 2,000 tribal people in another
The retired Indian Supreme Court Judge PB Sawant who has
evidence for an independent tribunal on the Gujarat violence
is quoted saying :
"The organisation called Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram through
which the tribals are
being indoctrinated into communal philosophy was roped in
and all those who
were trained there were also enrolled for violence."
But, the president of Kalyan Ashram in Gujarat denied his
involved in violence. He also denied any dealings with the
HSS and even, at first,
with SEWA International.