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Alms For The Killer Outlook India, March 8, 2004
India refuses visas to charity investigators The Guardian, Friday February 27, 2004
‘ RSS groups pocketed quake aid’
By Vijay Dutt, Hindustan Times, London, February 26, 2004

A Foreign Exchange of Hate:
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'Inaccuracies And Distortions'

Full text of the response of February 29, by Awaaz to the RSS response to its report: "the main allegation of Awaaz's report is that Sewa International UK and HSS UK deliberately hid" their being fronts of the RSS.

AWAAZ

Outlook India, February 29, 2004 original

February 29. Awaaz - South Asia Watch welcomes the statement of 27 February 2004 by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in India. The very fact that the RSS issued a statement at all supports our key argument that Sewa International UK, the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh UK (HSS UK) and Sewa Bharati (India) are all fronts of the RSS. The main allegation of Awaaz's report is that Sewa International UK and HSS UK deliberately hid this fact from the British public and continue to do so [1].

The RSS statement, however, contained a large number of inaccuracies and distortions.

'Misuse of funds'

The RSS claims that the Awaaz report accuses Sewa Bharati of misusing funds. In fact, the Awaaz report states the opposite: Sewa Bharati used funds raised from the British public by Sewa International UK for precisely the purpose it had always intended - to fund Sangh Parivar organisations. The Awaaz report makes no claim about Sewa Bharati's financial probity. What the report states clearly is that the British public were misled by Sewa International UK, that Sewa International UK was collecting funds almost exclusively for Sangh Parivar projects, and that the overwhelming bulk of funds went to the Sangh Parivar - findings that the RSS statement confirms.

We repeat that around £2 million raised from the British public by Sewa International UK in the name of humanitarian charity following the Gujarat earthquake went to fund the expansion of sangh parivar organizations in India. We repeat that the overwhelming bulk of funds raised by Sewa International UK from the British public for Orissa Cyclone relief went to RSS fronts. And we repeat that Sewa International UK and the India Development and Relief Fund (US) have misled the UK and US public respectively by not making explicit that they are the fundraising arms of the RSS abroad.

Schools

The RSS' claim about Sewa Bharati schools is irrelevant and has no relationship to the report's key findings. The Awaaz report is concerned with schools built with funds raised from the British public, and which are named under Sewa Bharati's 'Project 1' (such as the Saraswati Shishu Mandirs and Saraswati Vidya Mandirs). We stand by our claim that earthquake funds raised in the UK were used by Sewa Bharati to build sectarian sangh parivar schools, even though the British public was never informed of this intention.

Houses

The RSS statement says that a few houses for Muslims were built from Sewa Bharati earthquake funds. This fact is explicitly acknowledged in the Awaaz report. We think it ironic that the RSS should speak of building 13 houses for Muslims when, in 2002, the Sangh Parivar made 200,000 Muslims lose their homes.

Discrimination and intimidation in earthquake relief

The RSS seeks to claim that there was no discrimination in earthquake relief work undertaken by itself and its affiliates. Our report cites public fact-finding reports and press articles which stated there was discrimination against Muslims and Dalits during sangh parivar earthquake relief work. It also provides interview extracts that describe Hindutva propaganda and violence accompanying earthquake relief efforts. The clearest evidence of discrimination comes from Sewa International UK's complete indifference to the plight of the 200,000 people made homeless in 2002.

British delegations and UK Muslim endorsements

The RSS makes use of the fact that delegations from the UK went to villages and that a Muslim restaurant owner from Scotland endorsed Sewa International UK's work. This does not constitute a response to the specific and detailed allegations made in the Awaaz report. We shall send the report to members of the UK delegations and ask them to seriously consider their involvement with Sewa International in the light of the report's findings.

Awaaz is a non-partisan, secular network with no religious affiliation. We have no affiliations to any British or Indian political party. Awaaz members have been involved in combating Islamic fundamentalism, caste discrimination, racism and the oppression of women in the UK and in South Asia. Our members have raised funds for disaster relief in India, including for victims of Bhopal, the Gujarat earthquake and the Gujarat carnage. Awaaz members have attempted to bring charges against both Narendra Modi and General Pervez Musharraf for human rights violations.

Both the British and the Indian public will be dismayed at the latest RSS response, which is an attempt to distort the real issues and concerns rather than address them. Funding of extremist organisations is a serious public concern. Public faith can only be restored if the RSS and its British and Indian front organisations are willing to 'open their books' to public scrutiny. Awaaz proposes to initiate an enquiry by the British Parliament into these concerns. We stand fully by the findings of our report.

NOTES

1. Sam Jones, 'India refuses visas to charity investigators', The Guardian (online edition), 27 February 2004.

2. The Awaaz report is available from www.awaazsaw.org. The report is titled: In Bad Faith? British Charity and Hindu Extremism, published by Awaaz - South Asia Watch Ltd, London, 2004, ISBN 0 9547174 0 6.

3.The RSS, the 'National Volunteers' Corps', was formed in 1926 and is dedicated to turning India from a secular, democratic, multi-religious nation into an authoritarian anti-minority 'Hindu nation'. It has a large family of closely allied organisations operating in India and abroad. The founders and key leaders of the RSS were strongly inspired by Fascist Italy and supported Nazi Germany. The ideology of the RSS is 'Hindutva', a belief that India only belongs to Hindus who 'share the blood' of 'Vedic-Aryans' and who consider India as their 'holyland'.

4. 'Sangh Parivar' is the name for the RSS family of organisations closely related to and working under the ideology of the RSS.

5. Sewa International UK is the British fundraising arm for RSS front organisations in India. India Development and Relief Fund is the American counterpart.

6. Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh UK is the British branch of the RSS. It is a registered charity and is currently under investigation by the Charity Commission. Sewa International UK is its fundraising wing.

 

 

 

 
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