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American funding of Hindu hate organisations exposed

New Delhi: "Spread of sectarian hate in India can be halted if the money flowing from the US to the anti-Muslim, anti-Christian Sangh Parivar [RSS family] organisations involved in this nefarious design stops," said Biju Mathew, Professor, Rider University, New Jersey, US, at a press conference here on November 20.

The press conference was organised to expose huge funding of Hindu hate organisations through US-based charities. A campaign to halt the funding for spreading hate in India has been formally launched with the publication at the press conference of a comprehensive report about this funding. 

Called "The Foreign Exchange of Hate," this 91-page report is now available on the Internet at http://www.stopfundinghate.org.

The press conference was organised by "The Campaign to Stop Funding Hate" (CSFH), a US-based NGO to release its report which has been painstakingly compiled using published and unpublished sources about this funding which is routing to the hate outfits through "cultural" and "educational" front organisations floated by them in various parts of India.

CSFH is an organisation of people from all walks of life sharing a common concern that sectarian hatred in India was being fuelled by money flowing in from the US.

"Not only India, the US has also become a nation of hateful Hinduism, thanks to the RSS and the India Development and Relief Fund (IDRF), a US-based "charity" which has been providing millions of dollars to organisations connected with the Sangh Parivar," said Biju Mathew, a core member of CSFH.

The report, based on detailed analysis by a team of dedicated researchers of the US and India, is a testimony to the misuse of fund by the IDRF which it obtains from leading companies in the US in the name of "secular activities" in India.

According to the report, the IDRF submitted an application for tax exemption certificates to the Internal Revenue Service of the US. The Form 1023 filed by the IDRF in 1989 identifies nine representative organisations like Vikas Bharati (Bihar), Swami Vivekananda Rural Development Society (Tamil Nadu), Sewa Bharti (Delhi), Jana Seva Vidya Kendra (Karnataka), Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram (Madhya Pradesh), Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram (Gujarat), Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram (Nagar Haveli), Girivasi Vanvasi Sewa Prakalp (Uttar Pradesh) and G Deshpande Vanvasi Vastigrah (Maharashtra), that the IDRF sought to support in India.

Surprisingly, all the nine organisations mentioned by the IDRF belong to the RSS family. According to the Sangh literature, the origins and growth of Vikas Bharati is described as the one "which originated in the fountainhead called Sangh." Swami Vivekananda Rural Development Society (SVRDS) is a sister organisation of the VHP in Tamil Nadu. While, Sewa Bharati is the most commonly RSS identified service organisation.

Besides these nine organisations, there are other organisations which play an active role in IDRF activities. Ekal Vidyalays (One Teacher Schools) is a VHP project aimed at the indoctrination of students in remote, tribal villages. Vikasan Foundation strives to promote Indian culture in India and abroad. Bharat Vikas Parishad aims to involve entrepreneurs and well-off sections in its activities. Sewa International is IDRF affiliate in India and oversees its Indian operations.

Highlighting the main points, the report details disbursement of about $4 million between 1994 and 2000 to dozens of Sangh organisations by the IDRF mostly used for persecuting Muslims and Christians. In 2000 alone, using US government tax exemption status for charities, it collected $1.7 million.

The distribution of IDRF funds by ideology is as follows 83 percent to the RSS, VHP and other RSS family organisations, 8 percent to other Hindu and Jain religious organisations, 2 percent to secular organisations and 7 percent to unknown ideology. That means most of the funds went in for anti-Muslim, anti-Christian programmes in India.

Similarly, 69 percent of the funds were directly provided for the Hinduisation efforts, reconversion to Hinduism and on education to tribals and Hindus living in rural areas on fascist lines. Only 15 percent of the rest was spent on relief, 8 percent on welfare and health and 4 percent on "development." Share of religious activities other than Hindu was only 2 percent. However, most of the "development" was in terms of building Hindu temples and other such sectarian activities.

According to the report, "The IDRF participated in fundraising efforts with the Hindu Swayamsewak Sangh (HSS) in the US to raise money for Bangladesh Hindu victims of communal violence. Similarly, it also raised money for Kashmiri Hindus victimised by militants in Kashmir. More recently, it announced a donation of $25,000 towards relief efforts following the World Trade Centre collapse. In all three cases, the people responsible for perpetrating the disaster were Muslims, and the victims largely non-Muslim, the IDRF felt. However, in contrast, to date, the IDRF has not announced any relief for the victims of communal riots in Gujarat in February and March 2002."

The campaign activists are of the view that the IDRF was not only encouraging communal hatred in India, but in the US also. Because of its partisan role, Hinduism in the US is becoming a less respected religion.

They said that funds coming from abroad for the minority-run organisations in India reach them only after a thorough investigation by the authorities, while the same procedures are not always applied to the RSS family organisations. Blaming the central government, they said since the major party of this coalition government [BJP] is the political wing of the RSS family, so the strict procedures are not followed in their case.

The activists were disappointed with the ill-treatment meted out to the minorities in India by states and the Centre. They said that such misuse of donations had been harming the Indo-American community, and if it was not stopped, the funds for genuine relief work and other developmental programmes would be reduced to the minimum.

They also announced the launch of "Project Saffron Dollar" to bring to an end the collection and transfer of funds from the US to organisations spreading sectarian hatred in India. The campaign filed a petition on November 19 in the US seeking immediate cessation of the transfer of funds to IDRF. It has also dispatched its report to ten leading US corporations to prevent IDRF from using their facilities for fund raising.

MG Correspondent

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