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More On RSS Foreign Funds -The Awaaz Report

By Nalini Taneja

Peoples Democracy, March 7, 2004 original

YET another citizens' report, titled In Bad Faith? British Charity and Hindu Extremism, by a citizen's group based in UK documents the sources and the fraudulent means whereby RSS receives foreign funds from the British public. One may remember that last year a report was released at the initiative of US based secular groups, which documented the sources and manner whereby RSS received funds collected for them by 'charity' organisations in the US.

This new report about the sources of RSS funds from UK is by AWAAZ (South Asia Watch), a non-partisan, secular network with no religious affiliation or any affiliation to any British or Indian political party. It was recently launched at the British House of Lords. We give below the summary which conclusively demonstrates that organisations directly linked with the RSS have received millions of pounds raised from the British public.

APPROPRIATING OVERSEAS FUNDS

These funds were collected by a Leicester-based registered charity organisation called the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) and its fundraising arm, the Sewa International. It runs about 70 weekly physical and ideological training cells in the UK. The HSS is modelled on the RSS, actively promotes RSS ideology and shares the RSS aim of turning India into an exclusive 'Hindu nation'. The RSS in India considers the HSS to be its UK branch. Sewa International is not a registered charity. It uses the charity registration number of the HSS to raise funds from the British public.The Vishwa Hindu Parishad UK and the Kalyan Ashram Trust UK, both registered charities, are also branches of the RSS family operating in the UK. The full report details numerous, extensive, deep and active connections between the HSS and the RSS --- connections which were not made known to donors and the British public who gave funds in good faith for Indian humanitarian causes.

According to the report, around £2 million raised from the British public on grounds of the Gujarat earthquake alone went to fund the expansion of sangh parivar organisations in India. The overwhelming bulk of funds raised by Sewa International UK from the British public for Orissa Cyclone relief also went to RSS fronts. They were used for building sectarian sangh parivar schools, even though the British public was never informed of this intention, and for building the RSS networks all over the country. The organisations funded include not merely those ideologically inclined towards Hindutva, but also groups directly involved in large-scale violence and the promotion of hatred.

Both the Gujarat earthquake (2001) and the Orissa cyclone (1999) demonstrate a pattern in which a natural, human tragedy is used to enable the dramatic expansion of RSS institutions through the use of overseas funds.

EXPLOITING HUMAN TRAGEDY

All the £ 2 million raised from the British public by Sewa International for Gujarat earthquake reconstruction and rehabilitation from 2001 onwards was for a major RSS affiliate, Sewa Bharati. Sewa Bharati's reconstruction work was directly related to furthering the RSS's political agenda, including through the organization of RSS cells. A key pattern found was that Sewa International funded Sewa Bharati for rebuilding work, but it was the RSS that conducted ceremonies for the start of rebuilding work or handed over the completed village to residents. One rebuilt village (Chapredi) included an important dedication plaque glorifying the RSS, its founder and a key RSS affiliate. A Hindu temple topped with saffron flags was built in the village. No evidence was found of Sewa International funding the building of mosques or churches, though many of these were destroyed in the earthquake. The RSS supreme leader K S Sudarshan undertook the foundation stone laying ceremony for one village (Mithapasvaria). The new village was handed over to residents by senior RSS leaders. The RSS supreme leader K S Sudarshan undertook the opening ceremony for another village (Rapar) during which he urged residents to expand the RSS network in the area. Funds were raised for this village through a multicultural event in the UK. RSS physical and ideological training cells were started by Sewa Bharati during the rebuilding and rehabilitation period for another village (Badanpur).

A large proportion of the £260,000 raised by Sewa International for Orissa cyclone relief (1999) went to enable the expansion of major RSS affiliates. Funds were used for building RSS schools. The HSS said Orissa cyclone funds would be channelled through RSS volunteers and given to organisations which get their workforce from the RSS. Funds raised by Sewa International's 'education aid' wing are significant, running into hundreds of thousands of pounds. ?Each of the 'supported projects' for which Sewa International raises funds from the British public is an RSS project or is linked to the RSS, including the ekal vidyalyas run by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram, Sewa Bharati, Vidya Bharati and other RSS/VHP affiliates.

PUSHING HINDUTVA AGENDA

Sewa International and the Kalyan Ashram Trust UK (a registered charity) raise funds for the RSS arm, Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram (VKA), which has been responsible for considerable violence and hatred against Christian and Muslim groups, including during the Gujarat carnage in 2002. Allegations of violence against Christians by Sewa Bharati in Madhya Pradesh continue. Some Gujarat earthquake appeal funds collected by Sewa International from the British public were for the RSS-allied Lok Kalyan Samiti in Chanasma village, which has been implicated in the violent 'cleansing' of all Muslims from the village and the illegal occupation of premises and land previously under the charge of the statutory Muslim waqf board. ?Some Gujarat earthquake appeal funds collected by Sewa International from the British public were for the RSS's Border Jankalyan Samiti in Gujarat. The Jan Kalyan Samiti's Maharashtra branch was responsible for attacks on Christian organisations.

Needless to say, there are serious allegations that the RSS discriminated against Muslims and dalits in earthquake relief, and that the RSS and its allies attacked and intimidated secular NGOs undertaking relief work. Earthquake relief work by RSS allies was accompanied by violence and hatred against Christians. The RSS itself, in its response to the report, is able to speak of building 13 houses for Muslims when (as AWAAZ points out), "in 2002, the sangh parivar made 200,000 Muslims lose their homes."

Over a three-year period, only a small amount of a few thousand pounds was shown in HSS UK literature to have been donated by Sewa International to other causes. Despite the extreme need in Gujarat to help the victims of the Gujarat carnage of 2002, the HSS or the VHP UK, which lay claim to be non sectarian and humanitarian, did not launch any humanitarian appeal for the 2,000 people killed, mostly Muslims, and over 200,000 citizens of India who got displaced.

Based on its findings AWAAZ recommends that the charitable status of HSS and other associated charities should be withdrawn and public sector funding and political patronage of these organisations should end, and that politicians, public and voluntary sector organisations, religious and community groups publicly dissociate from the HSS, the VHP UK and their allied organizations. It also proposes to initiate an enquiry by the British Parliament into these concerns.

The report is based on site visits to Gujarat villages in September 2003, interviews in Gujarat from March-May 2003, interviews in the UK, US and other parts of India during 2003, and an analysis of papers and electronic documents, mostly from Hindutva organisations. It is published by Awaaz - South Asia Watch Ltd, London, 2004, ISBN 0 9547174 0 6. The full report is available on www.awaazsaw.org

 

 

 

 
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