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RSS raising money in Britain under false pretences: report Indo-Asian News Service, February 26, 2004
Quake, cyclone funds sponsored Guj violence: UK report The Times of India, 26, 2004
UK charities 'misled donors into funding Indian extremism' Financial Times, February 26 2004

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UK charities funding violence in India: Report

By Nabanita Sircar
Hindustan Times, London, February 26 original

A report released today by a UK-based campaign group has alleged that charities registered in the UK have played a key role in funding hardline Hindu groups which were allegedly responsible for sectarian violence in India.

Titled 'In Bad Faith? British Charity and Hindu Extremism,' the report is produced by Awaaz - South Asia Watch, a foundation set up last year comprising of British Indian academics and lawyers.

The charities, which the report said misled donors about their ideologies, include Sewa International UK (a Britain-based one). It alleged that they were the funding arm of the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, a UK-registered charity that is the British branch of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

The report alleges that such charities raised millions of pounds, sometimes by organising multi-cultural events that included British Muslim donors. The funded activities, it alleged, were directly linked to the violent persecution of religious minorities in India. The report also focuses on the Kalyan Ashram Trust, said to be the UK branch of an RSS offshoot, that allegedly indoctrinates Indian tribal groups with Hindu nationalist ideology. It says that money raised in the UK for the victims of disasters in India was devoted to sectarian projects, many of which can be directly linked to subsequent violence.

"Both the Orissa cyclone and the Gujarat earthquake appeals demonstrate a pattern in which a national tragedy is used to enable the dramatic expansion of RSS institutions, in the afflicted regions. Their [the UK charities'] main purpose is to channel funds to ... organisations repeatedly singled out for hatred, intolerance and violence in India," the report said.

It claims that most of the £2 million raised by the Sewa International for the Gujarat earthquake victims was spent on RSS schools. Although the Sewa International website said most of the rest was spent on rebuilding villages, but the report claims other organisations did most of the rebuilding work while RSS affiliates focused on sectarian projects such as rebuilding Hindu temples - but not mosques - destroyed in the earthquake.

The Awaaz report has photographs of plaques put up in villages in which the RSS claims full credit for the work. The Sewa, however, has continuously denied any links to the RSS, but Sewa's UK address is the same as that of the RSS in the city of Leicester, the report alleges.

The report notes that a chunk of Sewa funds were sent to RSS groups in India. "Sewa International UK knew exactly what it was doing and how it supported the aims and agenda of the RSS."

The report claims that donors could not have known how their money would be spent. It has called on the UK's Charity Commission to remove the charitable status of the HSS, the VHP (UK) and the Kalyan Ashram Trust. The Commission is already investigating the status of these charities.

A report in The Financial Times claims that last year officials at the Charity Commission were denied entry visas to carry out research in India.

The 80-page Awaaz report was put together by researchers who visited villages in Gujarat that Sewa International had listed as having been reconstructed with the money it had raised in the UK. None of the authors of the report are believed to be Muslim or Christian. The release of the report coincides with the second anniversary, on Friday, of the Gujarat riots in 2002.