Pressure on U.K. Govt. to crack down on Sangh Parivar outfits
By Hasan Suroor
The Hindu, Saturday, Dec 14th original
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LONDON DEC 13. The British Government is coming under growing
pressure to crack down on the fringe Sangh Parivar organisations
operating in U.K. as charitable bodies and allegedly using
donations to fund sectarian activities in India.
A Channel 4 programme, linking these organisations with the
recent communal violence in Gujarat and screened on Thursday
evening, has fuelled calls for revoking their charitable status
and for freezing their accounts.
The Channel said it would be submitting documents to the
Charities Commission as fresh "evidence" of alleged
misuse of funds by the largest U.K.- based Indian charity
— the Sewa International, an offshoot of the Hindu Swayamsevak
Samaj (HSS) whose affairs are already being investigated by
The Commission confirmed to The Hindu that an inquiry into
allegations against the HSS was initiated in September, and
that it would be taking "note" of the material shown
on Channel 4. "We have already seen the programme and
are in touch with Channel 4 journalists," a spokesperson
The programme, based on extensive interviews in Britain and
Gujarat, sought to show that though Sewa claims to be an independent
body, it had close links with HSS, the British variant of
RSS, and even used its charity registration number for the
purposes of raising funds. It raised over £ 2 million
for the Gujarat earthquake amid allegations that some of it
was later used to fund sectarian violence.
The programme specifically focused on the activities of the
Sewa-funded Kalyan Vanvasi Ashram in Gujarat, whose inmates
and officials were alleged to have been involved in attacks
on Christians and Muslims. A functionary of the Ashram was
quoted as saying that attacks on Christians and churches would
continue. A Muslim resident of Baroda Mohammad Haji said the
violence against Muslims was "orchestrated" by a
senior Ashram functionary.
Justice P.B.Sawant, a retired Supreme Court judge, told the
programme that "most of the money" sent to Gujarat
by Sewa was used for "indoctrination". The head
of the HSS, P.V.Ruparel, admitted that it was not always possible
to keep track on where money was going but insisted that funds
were raised in "good faith".
Several British Hindu donors said they would not have given
money to Sewa if they knew it was being used for a political
campaign. A former patron of Sewa, Adam Patel, said he was
"shocked" when he was told that the donations were
being channelled to promote a hate campaign against the Muslims.
He asked for details of how the money was being "deployed"
and when the Sewa bosses did not respond, he resigned. Eminent
economist, Meghnad Desai, said the British Government was
reluctant to act against the Hindu groups fearing that it
would be accused of racism.
The Channel 4 expose was hailed by groups, which have been
campaigning for action against the allegedly dubious charity
organisations. A spokesperson of South Asia Solidarity said
they would be pressing the Charities Commission to immediately
revoke HSS's charitable status, and organise a protest outside
the Commission's offices on December 20.