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