The Sangh Parivar in Our Backyard
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.
A. The VHP of America
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)
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)
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 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.
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.
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)
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)
As with Sewa International, I will say that IDRF is clean on paper. But its alliances are suspect.
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."
Unlike Sewa International or IDRF, FISI focuses its attention on lobbying in 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)
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)
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)
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)
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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