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UK charities scam linked to Sangh Parivar The Tribune, February 25, 2004
Funds collected for quake relief benefited RSS affiliate: reportThe Hindu, February 25, 2004
UK charities 'misled donors into funding Indian extremism' Financial Times, February 26 2004

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‘British public fooled into funding RSS’

By Aditi Khanna in London and Venkat Parsa in New Delhi
Asian Age, February 25, 2004 original

Feb. 25: The birth of the saffron pound in Britain has been highlighted as the indirect funding source of religious extremism in India.

A report released on the second anniversary of the post-Godhra riots in Gujarat reveals the unsavoury links between prominent fundraising organisations in the UK and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. The report “In Bad Faith: British Charity and Hindu Extremism," to be released at the House of Lords here on Thursday, uses site visits to Gujarat, interviews and documentary and photographic evidence to prove that under the cloak of humanitarian charity following the Gujarat earthquake, massive donations from the British public were sent to Hindu extremist groups directly implicated in a large-scale campaign of violence and hatred in India.
The report claims that much of the money was spent on building RSS schools that indoctrinate children into Hindutva and promote anti-minority hatred. It claims that the money from the UK was also given to other Sangh Parivar outfits, like Vanvasi Kalyan.

Sewa International, the fundraising arm of the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh UK, sent £2 million to its Indian counterpart Sewa Bharati, a front for the RSS, as part of its quake relief fund to Gujarat. Nearly a quarter of those funds were spent on RSS schools that promote fanaticism and large sums went to RSS front organisations, says Chetan Bhatt of Awaaz, the UK-based organisation behind this report.

The activities of the HSS and Sewa International have been under investigation since 2000 when the UK’s Charity Commission launched an inquiry into the charity’s alleged links with proscribed organisations. The commission staff sought Indian visas last year to ascertain how the charitable funds collected for quake relief in Gujarat had been applied, but the officials were denied entry by the Indian government.

“The main aim of our inquiry has been to confirm that the charitable funds raised by HSS have been applied properly. In the course of the investigation, we have looked at the charity’s connection with the international organisation Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, which was previously proscribed by the Indian government. We have received some documentary evidence. However, we are now waiting for further information from the trustees,” a spokesperson for the Charity Commission told The Asian Age.
The report claims that the funds were collected by the Leicester-based registered charity HSS, and its fund-raising arm Sewa International. The report states that the HSS and Sewa International are UK branches of the RSS and the main purpose of their fundraising is to channel money to RSS fronts in India “despite their claim to be non-sectarian, non-religious, non-political and purely humanitarian organisations.”

Awaaz hopes this new report will further the commission’s inquiry and eventually lead to revoking HSS’ charity status and put an end to corporate funding and political patronage for the group. The HSS, a registered charity, is a branch of the Indian RSS and is modelled on the RSS, actively promotes RSS ideology and shares the RSS’ aim of turning India into an exclusive Hindu nation. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad UK and the Kalyan Ashram Trust UK, also registered charities, are other branches of the RSS family operating in the UK, the report claims.

The chain links unsuspecting British donors to the active political promotion and glorification of the RSS. It is claimed that in most cases these links are not made known to the donors in Britain and British peer Lord Adam Patel, a Muslim from Gujarat, resigned as a patron of Sewa International’s quake effort when these links were exposed.

“Most British donors would be horrified if they knew the nature, history and ideas of the RSS. British individuals raised funds and donated in good faith to Sewa International’s Gujarat Earthquake appeals, but would not have done so had they known that the organisations raising the money were closely linked to the Fascist-inspired and extremist RSS,” claims Awaaz.
The charity, however, denies any attempt at a cover-up or funding violence. “All our leaflets clearly state our links with Sangh Parivar and there has never been any attempt to fool the public. The entire sum collected for earthquake relief went towards charitable purposes and not a penny was spent on funding any hate campaign,” Mr Shantilal Mistry, president of Sewa International UK, told The Asian Age.

There are also accusations of fudging facts and figures where Sewa International claimed to fund the reconstruction of 10 to 25 villages, but only six villages were found in which Sewa International funds were used for reconstruction and rehabilitation.

A key pattern found was that Sewa International funded Sewa Bharati for rebuilding work but it was the RSS that conducted the foundation stone-laying or village handover ceremonies. One rebuilt village (Chapredi) included an important dedication plaque glorifying the RSS, its founder and a key RSS affiliate. The organisation’s supreme leader, K.S. Sudarshan, undertook the foundation stone-laying ceremony for Mithapasvaria, the report claims as evidence of the link between these organisations.

Awaaz claims that it is no coincidence that the Orissa cyclone and Gujarat earthquake, which saw a dramatic increase in overseas funds, was also the phase of dramatic expansion for extremist groups. “Our report vindicates the findings that the US-based India Development and Relief Fund was a front for pumping millions of dollars to the Hindu hate outfits in India. The funds involved in Britain are at a much higher scale and these are all being ploughed into garnering votes for the BJP, expanding the RSS network and grooming the next generation of Hindutva activists,” claims Mr Bhatt.

“Sewa International has tried to dupe politicians, donors and the general public. Its main purpose is to fund, expand and glorify hate-driven RSS organisations, several of which have been at the forefront of largescale violence, pogroms or hate campaigns in India. It’s claim to be a non-sectarian, non-political, non-religious humanitarian charity is a sham,” said Awaaz spokesman Suresh Grover.