UK charities scam
linked to Sangh Parivar
Ashish Kumar Sen
The Tribune, February 25, 2004 original
A report to be released in the House of Lords in London today
provides alarming evidence linking UK-based charities to Sangh
Parivar groups in India.
The report, “In Bad Faith? British Charity and Hindu Extremism,” produced
by Awaaz, a London-based secular network, states that these charities
collected donations running into millions of pounds from the
British public under the guise of humanitarian causes. Most prominent
among these were relief efforts to aid victims of the Orissa
cyclone and the Gujarat earthquake.
“We do not think it is a coincidence that the two Indian
states where Hindutva networks, violence and hatred have grown
phenomenally in recent years both had natural and human tragedies,
followed by massive funding to Hindutva organisations from overseas,” the
The document explains in detail how the UK based Sewa International
sent £2 million raised for Gujarat earthquake relief to
its Indian counterpart, Sewa Bharati. Part of the Sangh Parivar,
Sewa Bharati has a well-documented agenda of expanding Hindutva
networks in India.
Much of the funds collected in the name of humanitarian causes
were spent on schools run by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh
that “indoctrinate children into Hindutva and promote anti-minority
hatred,” the report says.
“Most donors would be horrified if they knew the nature,
history and ideas of the RSS,” Mr Suresh Grover, one of
the directors of Awaaz, said in a telephonic interview from London.
Awaaz’s report exposes links of the Hindu Swayamsevak
Sangh (HSS), Sewa International and the Kalyan Ashram Trust to
Sangh Parivar sponsored violence in India. “We cannot say
that pounds collected here were used to buy guns in India, but
we can say with confidence that the money was used to build hatred
against a minority,” said Mr Grover. There are close a
million people of Indian origin living in the UK.
“Many in the Indo-British community donated funds in good
faith on Sewa International’s Gujarat earthquake appeals,
but would not have done so had they known that the organisation
was linked to the RSS,” Mr Grover said.
The association of prominent British personalities with these
organisations was one of the factors that contributed to a sense
of complacency amongst donors. Lord Adam Patel, a member of the
House of Lords and a patron of Sewa International, resigned from
his latter affiliation last year after learning of the group’s
links to the Sangh Parivar.
Though not registered as a charity in the UK, Sewa International
is the fund-raising arm of the registered charity HSS, the UK
branch of the RSS. “It uses the charity registration number
of the HSS to raise funds from British people,” the report
says. Funds raised by Sewa International run into millions of
pounds. The bulk of this money has allegedly been channelled
to RSS front organisations in India.
The authors of the report have asked the Charity Commissioner
to withdraw charity status of the HSS (UK), the Vishwa Hindu
Parishad, UK, and the Kalyan Ashram Trust.
The London-based Charity Commission is already investigating
the HSS and Sewa International. “There are some very serious
allegations... We are looking into potential links between the
charity and extremist organisations in India and alleged payments
to these groups by the charity,” a spokesperson for the
commission said. “We are looking at the relationship between
the HSS and Sewa International, and also the administration of
the funds that were collected for the Gujarat Earthquake Appeal,” she
The commission’s inquiry has been spurred by allegations
that funds collected by Sewa International were sent to Sewa
Bharti, a group linked to communal violence in India. The Madhya
Pradesh government revoked Sewa Bharti’s licence because
of its alleged involvement in violence against christians.
In the case of Vishwa Hindu Parishad, the commission is in the
process of “gathering and evaluating information.”
Rebecca Draka, another spokesperson for the Charity Commission,
said it was “waiting for the trustees of the charity to
supply us with more information, which is taking a long time
because they are obtaining this information from India.” She
said the Government of India had “refused” the commission’s
visa application, but added: “We have contacted them to
ask them to reconsider their decision and are awaiting a response.”
Sewa International (UK) became a high profile fund-raising organisation
after the Gujarat earthquake. It raised around £2.3 million
for its India “quake appeal from the British public.
Mr Grover cited the funding of RSS schools by Sewa International
(UK) as a key example of the financing of hatred in India. Some
funds for earthquake reconstruction were also channeled to the
RSS’s Lok Kalyan Samiti in Chanasma village, which has
been implicated in the violent “cleansing” of all
Muslims from the village.
Another RSS project, Jankalyan Samiti, was a recipient of Sewa
International (UK) earthquake funds. The Jankalyan Samiti’s
Maharashtra branch has been involved in violence against Christians
and Christian organizations.
The report makes a pointed reference of the fact that despite
these charities repeated claims to be non-sectarian and non-discriminatory,
Sewa International, the HSS and the VHP did not launch any humanitarian
appeal following the Gujarat violence in 2002.