Charity-fund money going to Hindu conservatives
The News International-Jang.com, 27 February, 2004 original
LONDON: Money raised in Britain to help earthquake victims in India
is going instead into the coffers of a conservative Hindu group,
a British-based South Asian human rights group said on Thursday.
Awaaz-South Asia Watch said in a report that Sewa International
had raised two million pounds (3.7 million dollars) after the Gujarat
earthquake two years ago.
But it said Sewa International did not disclose the fact that it
was the fundraising arm of a Leicester-based conservative Hindu group,
the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS), or reveal its links with India’s
right-wing Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which regards the HSS
as its British offshoot.
"All two million pounds raised from the British public by Sewa
International for Gujarat earthquake reconstruction and rehabilitation
from 2001 was for a major RSS affiliate, Sewa Bharati," the
report said. "Sewa Bharati is dedicated to creating an exclusive
Hindu nation," it said. "Sewa Bharatis reconstruction work
was directly related to furthering the RSSs political agenda, including
through the organisation of RSS cells," the report added.
It cited the case of one earthquake-stricken Gujarati village, Chapredi,
where a Hindu temple was reconstructed with a plaque ‘glorifying
the RSS’ while mosques and churches that had been destroyed
were apparently not rebuilt.
Awaaz-South Asia Watch urged the British authorities to withdraw
charity status from HSS and associated charities. "Public sector
funding and political patronage of these organisations should end," it
Some 25,000 people were killed when Gujarat was hit by a massive
earthquake in January 2001. The following year, some 2,000 died (mostly
Muslims) when the state was plunged into by India’s worst communal
violence between Hindus and Muslims in a decade.