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<<< index page

EXCLUSIVE

The Sangh Parivar in Our Backyard   

By Zahir Sajad Janmohamed 

On Thursday I walked through the looted and burned home of Arif Shaikh, a relief camp organizer arrested for reasons he still does not know. Prominently spread outside his apartment were flyers attributed to the Sangh Parivar with the heading: "HINDUS ARISE!! MUSLIMS HAVE AK-47s!! ISLAMIC JIHAD MEANS KILLING ALL HINDUS!! RESIST MUSLIM BULLIES!!" (translated from the Gujarati text--I have a copy of the flyer in case some one wants verification.) 

I do not know what bothered me more--seeing the unfathomable level of hatred or knowing that the very flyer in my hand may have been funded from well-heeled Indians in UK, US, and Canada. 

As evidence mounts that the VHP and RSS were the chief architects of the Gujarat Carnage, the activities of the Sangh Parivar abroad deserve attention . Gautam Appa of the London School of Economics, writes, "The contribution of these British organizations (VHP UK, HSS) to the work of the Sang Parivar in India in terms of fund raising is not insignificant. According to the charity commissioner's records, the two main charities associated with VHP (UK) and the HSS had collected nearly one million pounds in the last financial year. It is common knowledge that a large chunk of the overt and covert collection ends up in India in the hands of the Sang Parivar.¨ (from a May 300, 2002 article, as quoted from www.onlinevolunteers.org/gujarat/news/articles/appa.htm; HSS is the international body of the RSS, the word Rashtriya is replaced by the word Hindu) 

But efforts to investigate the VHP's foreign funding have been thwarted. In a 1999 article, Om Prakash Tiwari documents a distressing "missing" file of the VHP. He writes: "The corridors of power in Delhi have mysteriously suppressed a file of the Income Tax Department which was investigating into the fund of Rs 300 crore ($ 62.5 million USD) coming from NRIs allegedly received by VHP. The Income Tax Commsioner Mr. Vishwa Bandhu Gupta said that VHP have received ample amount from abroad.¨ (from South Asia Citizens web)

According to Indian Income Tax laws, any religious trust needs to submit its account for governmental review each year. Section 11 of the Income Tax Act prohibits the classification of any organization that spreads religious or caste doctrine as charitable. Each recipient of foreign aid must spend 75% of the funds in the same year it was received. (ibid)

The "missing" file prevented the Income Commissioner from auditing the records of the VHP. Since then, the Income Commissioner has been unable to make a case against the VHP. The Commissioner made four notable conclusions: 

1) the VHP and BJP are not separate bodies and should be treated as one entity; 2) the VHP did not have any accounts of its expenditure-income; and 3) the construction of a temple (in Ayoodha) is not a social work; and 4) the VHP did not file any return which would determine where it received the large quantity of funds. (ibid)

Where then is the money coming from? Below is my effort to trace both the roots--and the funds-of the Sangh Parivar abroad. 

I. The Sangh Parivar's Global Reach

The Sangh Parivar is the name used to describe the fraternity of organizations that espouse the doctrine of Hindutva. Many insist that the doctrine of Hindutva originated with the advent of the BJP. But it was Veer Savakar and MS Gowalkar who first equated Indian nationalism with its essential "Hinduness" nearly 80 years ago. (I should add on the RSS website, Savakar is called a "revolutionary," see www.rss.org)

From this ideology sprouted several groups. The RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) was formed in 1925 and counts current Prime Minister Vajpayee, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as its members. In an interview published today in the Economic Times, Deputy Prime Minister Advani pleaded,"If you see any virtue in me, I have imbibed it from the RSS--its discipline, patriotism and commitment to integrity of public life. It is absurd to ask me to delink from the RSS." (see Economic Times, July 5, 2002 page 5)

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) was started in 1968 as a pan-Hindu "cultural" group to uplift Hindus throughout the world. In the state of Maharashtra, the Shiv Sena represents the Hindutva doctrine. Its leader, Bal Thackery proudly boasted of his role in agitating Muslims after the Babri-Masjid destruction in 1992. (see Time magazine)

Western writers often make the blunder of misunderstanding the relationship between these groups. AG Noorani, the author of the eloquent RSS and VHP: Division of Labour, argues that any understanding of the BJP must begin with the RSS and VHP. These are the root organizations that engrain the Hindutva doctrine to tens of thousands of youth in the estimated 25,000 schools that the RSS operate. When these children reach maturation, they use the outward, political vehicle of the BJP to manifest their Hindutva doctrine. The strength of these organizations is that they each work in entirely different sectors yet operate under one unifying name and banner, the SangH Parivar. To treat each of these organizations as separate entities is to impose a division that even the Sangh Parivar rejects for itself. (AG Noorani's book is published by Signpost; the book may be hard to find, you may try writing the publisher.) 

Now seventy-seven years after its founding, the Sangh Parivar shows little sign of relenting. At a June 22 meeting in Hardwar (the holy city where the Ganges meets the plains), the Vishwa Hindu Parishad announced, "If (Muslims) continue to take the country towards partition, they will have to stay in refugee camps like in Gujarat." (see Times of India, June 23, cover page) 

These words should not surprise us. A week after the genocide began here in Gujarat, unrepentant VHP leader Harish Bhai Bhatt confessed, "Now, it is the end of tolerance. If the Muslims do not learn, it will be very harmful for them." (as quoted in Mid-Day from the New York Times, March 6, 2002) 

Here in Gujarat I am appalled by the utter lack of remorse. The architect of the carnage, Narendra Modi, has become a hero in the eyes of many. A BJP Union Minister from UP told the Telegraph on March 6, 2002, "He (Modi) has salvaged the party's credibility and honour in a way no one has done after we came to power in the Centre."
I leave Gujarat with terrible trepidation that if the Sangh Parivar is not stopped, then the ethnic cleansing of Muslims will continue.

Exaggeration? Since February 28, over 5000 Muslims have been killed, 150,000 forced into camps, and according to Father Cedric Prakash of Prashant testimony to US Congress, 300 women have been gang raped and estimated 600,000 Muslims fled the Gujarat state. 

Now consider this: the ruling party (BJP) blames Muslims for the carnage and gains in popularity; the VHP admits to its hand in the violence and continues to receive foreign funding; and the international community passively responds. 
Gone are the days when we can dismiss the Sangh Parivar as a problem limited to the borders of India. When VHP President Ashok Singhal spoke at the Global Vision 2000 conference, he proudly predicted, "America will realize with this program that Hindutva has asserted itself and there is no force that can stop it." (India Today, August 31, 1993)
The information below reveals that perhaps prolific writer Shashi Tharoor is correct: "exile nurtures extremism." (For Tharoor quote see www.washpost.com)

A. The VHP of America 

l The Vishwa Hindu Parisad of America (VHPA) was started in 1970 and registered in New York State in 1974 as a cultural organization. Today it is a registered tax exempt Non-Profit [501(c)3] (see the VHP America website, www.vhp-america.org/

l If you visit the VHPA website, there are two listed chapters of the VHPA--the headquarters in Houston and a chapter in West Bloomfield, Michigan. However if you visit the website of the main VHP in India, it claims, "It has its Chapters in 40 States throughout the US." (http://www.vhp.org/englishsite/d.Dimensions_of_VHP/qVishwa%20Samanvya/vishvahinduparishadabroad.htm#cultural) 

l
The website of the Michigan chapter insists, "At present Parishad serves the needs of over 10, 000 Hindu families in USA through its chapters." (see http://www.vhp-america.org/michigan/index.html

l
More distressing are the ties with other groups. Again from the VHP Website: "VHP of America has been working in close association with other Hindu organizations such as Ramkrishna Mission, ISKCON, Divine Life Society, etc¨ (http://www.vhp.org/englishsite/d.Dimensions_of_VHP/qVishwa%20Samanvya/vishvahinduparishadabroad.htm#cultural) 


l
The website of the Michigan VHPA Chapter features an inflammatory allegation: "Alert! Muslim men getting rewarded for marrying Hindu girls!" The article is so far-fetched I feel silly responding. Check it out: http://www.vhp-america.org/michigan/index.html 


B. Hindu Students Council 
l The Hindu Students Council (HSC) was formed in the US in 1990 "as a project of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America.¨ (taken from the HSC website, see http://www.hscnet.org/history.shtml

l Today there are 44 chapters of the HSC throughout the US and 6 chapters in Canada. According to an article by Trinity College Professors B. Mathew and V. Prashad, "The typical HSC is organized and run by an immigrant graduate male student who has some Sangh Parivar connections." (see http://www.hscnet.org/vm.shtml for numbers of HSC chapters, see http://www.vhp-america.org/vhp_intro.htm information about groups roots, see www.geocities.com/indianfascism/fascism/in_usa.htm for Mathew, Prashad quote) 

l In 1993 (just 9 months after the destruction of the Babri masjid), the HSC participated in the Global Vision 2000 conference. The aim of the conference was, according to the HSC website to "commemorate the famous Chicago Address of Swami Vivekananda in 1893.¨ But Shahi Tharoor, the brilliant writer and Indian Senior UN official, raised questions about the intentions of this conference: "Its organizers have no claim to the all-embracing tolerance and wisdom of the late sage. They are the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, whose Vision extends most famously so far to the destruction of the Babri Mosque at Ayodhya in northern India last December, an act that unleashed violence and rioting on scale not seen in India since independence.¨ (For Tharoor quote see www.washpost.com and http://www.geocities.com/indianfascism/fascism/in_usa.htm; For proof of HSC's involvement in conference see http://www.hscnet.org/history.shtml

C. The VHP in UK 

l According to the VHP website, "The VHP work in UK commenced in 1972. It has branches in various parts of London,and in Leicester, Manchester, Birmingham, Northampton, Nottingham, Bradford and Bolton.¨ (see http://www.vhp-uk.com/Activities/activities.htm

l Gautam Appa, London School of Economics, has extensively written on the Sang Parivar in UK. He writes: "Here in Britain the VHP (UK) and the HSS have a strong organizational base among Gujaratis from East Africa. Like its counterpart in India, the VHP (UK) fronts many organizations. Management committees of many Gujarati temples include one or two VHP members. There is overlapping membership of the VHP (UK) and local government-funded centres purporting to cover such innocuous sounding cultural activities such as language or yoga classes and prayer group.A key aspiration of all these front organisations is to work as a bulwark for the promotion of the goals of the VHP and the RSS in India, including the nefarious goal of Muslim-bashing. I have seen their information sheets for members detailing how much money each local government administration spends on Muslim as opposed to Hindu organisations. Recent reports suggest that the extreme racist British National Party has approached them for joint work against Muslims, their common enemy." (see http://www.onlinevolunteers.org/gujarat/news/articles/appa.htm) 

D. The VHP in Canada, Other Parts of the World

l
According to the VHP website, the VHP Canada was started in 1970. Its membership continues to expand today and the VHP Canada has pledged to establish a chapter wherever "even 10 Hindus can be found." (see http://www.vhp.org/englishsite/d.Dimensions_of_VHP/qVishwa%20Samanvya/vishvahinduparishadabroad.htm#canada

l
The VHP also has branches in: Zambia, Netherlands, West Germany, Hong Kong, and a alarmingly growing presence in Sri Lanka. (again see http://www.vhp.org/englishsite/d.Dimensions_of_VHP/qVishwa%20Samanvya/vishvahinduparishadabroad.htm#canada)

E. RSS in US, UK, Other Parts of the World

l
The website, www.hindubooks.org, gives a brief history of the evolution of the RSS abroad: "The Sangh Shakha made its debut beyond the borders in 1946 on a ship sailing from Bombay to Kenya… On reaching Kenya, they successfully discovered more of their brethren; and on Makara Sankranti of 1947, the first Shakha of Bharateeya Swayamsevak Sangh (BSS) was formally founded…Then onwards it has been continuous growth for the Sangh not only in African countries, but also in the U.K., Europe, America, Canada and West Indies in the West and Mayanmar (formerly Burma), Malaysia and Indonesia in the East. For obvious reasons, the name is not Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh everywhere. In the U.K. and in the small Caribbean states it is Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS), in Mayanmar Sanatana Dharma Swayamsevak Sangh (SDSS), in America Vishwa Hindu Parishad, and in Mauritius the Hindu Council of Mauritius. Though the names vary, the purpose is the same - i.e., to organise Hindus, to inculcate proper samskars in them." (see http://www.hindubooks.org/WideningHorizons/ch8.html

l Go to the website for HSS and it lists all the chapters in the US. In my home state of California, there are six chapters of HSS; two in Los Angeles alone. Check out the site: www.hssworld.org 

l The Indian Express reported that earlier this year, an RSS camp was held in Bombay exclusively for NRI women. That NRIs would travel all the way to India for an RSS camp shows that the RSS enjoys considerable pull. One of the featured activities was "rifle training." (see www.expressindia.com, January 9, 2002) 

2. Non-Profits Working with links to RSS, VHP in India 

One of the challenges of linking the VHP India with donors in the US is the VHPA and HSS appear benign on paper. They are registered as non-profit groups. Both the VHPA and HSS operate camps, picnics, homeless feeding drives, education centres-all programs that appear to be noteworthy. Their websites are cleverly worded and explicitly state that the VHPA does not give funds to the Ram Mandir Construction Project in Ayoodha. In fact, the VHPA websites even issues a condemnation of the violence in Gujarat. (They fail to condemn their VHP India counterparts who carried out the carnage.) 

All foreign money sent to groups in India is carefully monitored by the Indian government. The RSS and VHP are well-politicized groups and would not make the blunder to openly solicit for foreign funds. A considerable amount of funds reaches the RSS and VHP in India through covert donations by NRIs who visit India and hand over heaps of cash. But these are cash transactions-there is no proof, no case here.

What we can focus on are the overt donations by NRIs to organizations with questionable links to the RSS and the VHP. Consider the following three groups.

A. Sewa International

l
In its own words, "Sewa International is an umbrella for more than 2000 projects and programs all over India. More than 50000 volunteers (Swayamsevaks) involved in running the activities. 76 types of activities. Provides the NRI community and visitors to India, with information and contacts of all the above mentioned programs. Bridges the gap between the social service organization and volunteers or donors." (see http://www.sewainternational.org/intro.html

l Their website even flashes a Gandhi quote on its home page, "Serving Humanity is Serving God." 

l The group sounds entirely benign. But if you go to the main website for the RSS India, it features links for Sewa International (Sewa International should not be confused with the admirable SEWA Bank here in Ahmedabad.) (see www.rss.org for link to SEWA International) 

l Click on the link for Sewa and a distressing page appears. A five page survey is attached for people to fill out describing the specifics of their locale. They are asked to list demographics for their city (by religion, caste, language group), specify their income (and preferably those around), disclose the assets of their locale (number of phones, TVs, scooters). Here in Gujarat it was surveys like these that were used to identify which home and shop belonged to Muslims. Many of the RSS, VHP have been caught with these lists; others RSS leaders have even confessed to using lists. Go to www.riotinfo.com for proof. 

l On the same RSS website, click the "History" link and the connection becomes clear. It reads: "During the last 75 years, RSS has spread across all the regions, states, districts, and cities of Bharat. It lives in its more than 50,000 shakhas…similar work is on in over 100 countries where volunteers are busy organizing Hindus under different organizations. Hindu Council, Hindu Swayamsevak Sang (HSS), Sewa International, Friends of India Society International, etc are some of them…" (www.rss.org, italics mine) 

l Both the RSS and Sewa International mention that a relationship exists between the groups-however casual it may be. But where then is the proof of money being sent? 

l On the Sewa International homepage, click on the section labeled "News." It states that on January 28, 2002, seven Members of Parliament from UK arrived with wealthy NRIs from England and handed "a cheque to Narendra Modi, Chief Minister of Gujarat on behalf of Sewa International UK for one million pounds for rehabilitation of earthquake affected in that state through Sewa Bharati Gujarat." (from www.sewainternational.org

l Note two things: 1) the funds came a year after the earthquake and 2) The funds were given directly to the government and specifically to Modi, a RSS member. The same news briefing inficates that Sewa International had collected a total of 4.3 million British pounds. (see http://www.sewainternational.org/newslet.htm

l What then is the problem? After all, there is no legal problem with including a web link to the RSS; nor is there a problem with giving money to a government official for relief efforts. Look a little closer on the Sewa International website and the connection can be seen. Now go the home page for Sewa International. Go to the link labeled "States" and the Sewa International lists that to facilitate its work in India, its partners include the VHP, RSS in India. 

l Again-its possible that Sewa International clearly specified that no money be sent to the RSS, VHP when they passed the check to Modi. I stand clearly and say on paper, Sewa International is clean. But I do believe their links to the VHP, RSS deserve investigation. 

l Still skeptic? On the Sewa International website, click on the link "Experiment and Results." Once there click on "Social Harmony" and you will find the Hindutva doctrine explained and praised openly. 
B. India Development and Relief Fund (IDRF)

l In its own words, "The name IDRF reflects our interest in the interaction and convergence of development and relief work, particularly in relation to the needs and welfare of the poor. As such, IDRF has a broad focus and does not restrict its activities to any set of projects. The projects with which IDRF is involved at any particular time, will always reflect our pledge to create self help, rather than welfare dependence." (www.idrf.org)
Serve economically and socially disadvantaged people irrespective of caste, sect, region or religion 
Operate, manage and monitor project activities without any overhead costs." (see www.idrf.org

l According to the website, "As before, the IDRF volunteers were called upon for self-sacrifice; they immediately plunged into another special fund-raising campaign: raising around $2.75 million." (bold theirs, ibid) 

l IDRF has offices in Freemont, California; Arlington, Massachusetts; Houston, Texas; Woodbridge, Ontario; Toronto, Ontario; Hyderabad, India; and its headquarters in North Betheseda, Maryland. 

l Again perfectly innocent. Click on "Sister Organizations" and it lists a link to Sewa International and the RSS, VHP as its partners. (ibid) 

l One of the links allows you to adopt a child of the "Kargil Terrorism." (ibid) 

l As with Sewa International, I will say that IDRF is clean on paper. But its alliances are suspect.

C. Friends of India Society International (FISI)

l The FISI was started in 1976 when India was going through its "Emergency" and civil rights were suspended. 

l If we go back to www.hindubooks.org, the site makes references to FISI and its connection to Hindutva doctrine. It reads: "The swayamsevaks living abroad played a significant role during the internal emergency (1975-77) in helping the underground movement from outside, in every possible way. The two forums, 'Indians for Democracy' in U.S.A. and 'Friends of India Society' in the U.K., took upon themselves the task of arranging tours of the leaders of underground movement for apprising the intelligentsia in their respective countries, of the actual goings-on in Bharat, and also acted as conduits of information to foreign correspondents like Jack Anderson and George Laizle of 'Newsweek' of U.S.A. It was because of these two forums that the constitutional autocracy of Bharat could be denuded in the eyes of the world. After lifting of the emergency, these two forums became one as 'Friends of India Society International' (FISI) and this society is now trying to build Bharateeya lobbies in world centres such as Washington and London…. While always upholding the Hindu identity, they inspire the people of those countries also to recognise the greatness of Bharat and Hindutwa." (italics, bold, theirs; taken from http://www.hindubooks.org/WideningHorizons/ch8.html

l Prominently on the website (scroll down from the home page) and it reads, "SAVE THE WORLD…BOYCOTT PAKISTANI BUSINESSES and GOODS." (bold, caps, theirs, see www.fisiusa.org

l Search the FISI more and click on the link "Gujarat Burning." Some of the titles that appear include, "Minoritism (sic)-A Promoter to Muslims," "Muslims equally responsible in participating in riots," and my favorite, "Analyzing Muslim Agony." 

l Unlike Sewa International or IDRF, FISI focuses its attention on lobbying in DC.

3. Sangh Parivar Presence in Washington, DC 

l A Washington Post report expouned on the lobbying efforts of the Sangh Parivar in DC. It says, "Organizations such as the Overseas Friends of the BJP, the US chapter of the RSS, the VHP (also known as World Hindu Council), and the Friends of India Society International are lobbying in and around Capitol Hill in support of ideas both fanatical and fascistic by many supporters of secular government in India." (see washpost.com) 

l A report from the Washington DC bureau of The Times of India stated, "what nevertheless remains a fact is the persistent lobbying by Sangh Parivar supporters here." (Times of India, August 1, 1993)
4. Sangh Parivar-Zionist Connection

l It is ironic (and tragic) that India would be steered by the Sangh Parivar towards normalized relations with Israel. Mahatama Gandhi, affectionately called Bapuji (father) here in India, said, "Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English." He believed it was "wrong and inhuman to impose the Jews on the Arabs. What is going on in Palestine today cannot be justified by any moral code of conduct." (www.washpost.com

l In a Washington Post article by Faisal Kutty, he writes, "In its Aug 1 article, The Times of India reported that Hindutva leaders also have met both with Clinton administration officials and with Zionist leaders to bring about a favorable attitude toward the rising Hindutva tide in India. 'It is a known practice that whenever senior BJP officials leaders visit the US,' The Times of India reported, 'meetings are scheduled with Jewish groups…experts from prestigious think tanks such as the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and, if possible, the State Department." (see washpost.com

l Given the cozy relations between the Zionists and the Sangh Parivar, it should come as no surprise that this has led to greater interaction of intelligence efforts. Again from Kutty: "There is already cooperation in military intelligence and training. In fact, the former Union Law Minister Ram Jethmalani told the Times of India 'Mossad has no conflict of interest with India. Remember the kind of assistance they gave us during the Kargil conflict.'" (The Mossad is Israel's equivalent to the CIA. For an expose about the ruthless exploits of the Mossad, read the disturbing testimony of two former Mossad agents in By Way of Deception; Kutty quote from http://www.ummahnews.com/viewarticle.php?sid=967

l The ruling BJP makes combating terrorism its staple campaign issue. As the US seeks support for its "War on Terrorism," India insists it is bullied by its neighbor, Pakistan-despite the fact India has a population ten times that of Pakistan, an army that overpowers Pakistan, and a GNP that dwarfs Pakistan. To assist in this campaign against terrorism, India has looked towards Israel and even sent Deputy Prime Minister Advani to Israel. Kutty writes, "The focus of L. K. Advani's visit was on devising ways to combat terrorism. The discussions were firmed up during Singh's visit when the two countries agreed to set up a joint forum to combat terrorism (ie undermine Kashmiri independence and the Muslim minority). In fact, according to Professor Barry Rubin of Bar Ilan University, Israel is the only country helping India to combat so-called Pakistani aided terrorists." (see http://www.ummahnews.com/viewarticle.php?sid=967)

5. What Can be Done

A. Write VHP, HSS, FISI, Sewa International, IDRF

l All the websites for the groups above are listed in this article. I encourage you to write to the VHPA, VHP (UK) and HSS. Inquire about their histories and their links to the VHP, RSS India. Ask them to expound their position on their counterparts in India who have endorsed the Gujarat Carnage. Be courteous and polite when you email them-many may have joined these organization for the numerable social programs that these groups sponsor and may be fully unware of the links to the VHP, RSS in India. 

l Those still in University should contact their campus chapter of HSC. Inform them of the HSC's roots in the VHP and share your knowledge of the VHP with them. Again I assume most students joined because the name is so innocent-Hindu Students Council. Give them the benefit of the doubt.
A. Contact Congressman Joe Pitts (Republican--Pennsylvania)

l Congressman Pitts made a brave and commendable statement against the atrocities in Gujarat. He also expressed concern over possible funds from the US being sent to radical groups that support the Carnage. Email him and show your appreciation for his remarks. (and while you are emailing him, express your support for his proposal for a memorial to recognize the brutality of slavery in the US) To contact him, go to: http://www.house.gov/pitts/service/correspond.htm

A. Explore Legal Avenues to Freeze Assets of Groups

l There is talk here of a case being prepared in the US to freeze the assets of groups that donate to the Sangh Parivar or their affiliates. There is still considerable research and legwork involved. If interested, email me at mithapaan@hotmail.com

A. Engage

l Most important meet with the South Asian diaspora, the Muslim community, professors, activists and anyone interested, and discuss the disturbing spread of the Sangh Parivar in the West. As the US continues to add to its list of prohibited "terrorist" organizations, perhaps the US should consider adding one more.


Source: www.sabrang. com/ Communalism Combat, July 1802

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