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