Monday, December 1, 2008

British Charity & Hindu Extremism - 5

IN BAD FAITH? BRITISH CHARITY & HINDU EXTREMISM
Awaaz — South Asia Watch Ltd, 2004


http://www.awaazsaw.org/ibf/index.htm


SECTION 5: THE HINDU SWAYAMSEVAK SANGH UK & ITS ALLIED ORGANIZATIONS

http://www.awaazsaw.org/ibf/section5.htm


Section summary


1 - The Hindutva extremist RSS and key members of its family have branches in the UK which report to the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh UK (HSS UK), a registered charity.


2 - The UK organizations are not simply Hindu bodies promoting Hindu culture and religion, but are UK branches of the Indian RSS family dedicated to promoting the RSS and its ideology.


3 - The HSS UK follows RSS structures, ideology, language, rituals, hierarchy, methods of organizing and techniques of physical and ideological training.


4 - The VHP UK is a branch of the Indian VHP. The Indian VHP’s central office and board of trustees has ‘jurisdiction’ over the entire organization of the VHP outside India, and considers VHP organizations outside India as its branches.


5 - There are regular, close and extensive links between the UK and the Indian RSS family. These are deep connections which work in both directions to and from India. This has involved visits by the most senior Indian RSS figures possible to the UK, as well as regular visits by HSS UK and VHP UK members to major RSS and VHP events in India.

The Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh UK (HSS UK) was initiated in 1966 and became a charitable trust from 29 April 1974, charity registration number 267309. The UK register of charities states that it is involved in general charitable purposes, education, training, overseas aid, famine relief, sport and recreation. It ostensibly provides care and counselling services, advocacy, advice and information. Its service group is listed as ‘elderly/old people’. It is stated to operate in Greater London, Leicestershire and the West Midlands. These claims are very different from the actual activities of the HSS UK, described extensively in its regular publication Sangh Sandesh (started in 1977) and other internal documents. These bear the unmistakable stamp of the RSS and show regular, close and extensive links between the HSS UK and the RSS in India.

The HSS is also the core body to which the other UK sangh parivar organizations report. The HSS UK has a board of six trustees and ten office bearers for its central executive committee (Kendriya Karyakari Mandal). The HSS UK headquarters is in Leicester. The Leicester office is called ‘Keshav Pratishthan’ (institute), ‘Keshav’ being the first name of the Indian RSS founder. The inauguration of the office on 22 April 1995 was presided over by the then supreme leader of the Indian RSS, Rajendra Singh. This Leicester address is also the official address of several Hindutva organizations in the UK, including Sewa International UK (SIUK), the National Hindu Students Forum (NHSF), the Kalyan Ashram Trust (KAT) and the Hindu Sahitya Kendra. The HSS also has offices in Bradford and Birmingham.

The primary aim of HSS UK activities is to create physical and ideological training cells (shakhas) and organize and strengthen Hindus (sangathan) under RSS ideology. HSS guidelines for its expansion and development workers, called vistaraks, states:

1. The work of a vistarak consists of opening new Shakhas, strengthening old Shakhas or carrying out a project for sangh

2. Vistaraks are full time workers for sangh [HSS family] during the set period. Vistaraks should not be engaged in any other activities in this period.

3. During this period, the vistarak should try his best to meet as many Hindu families as possible. Our objective is to make them understand our mission (Sanghathan) and win their hearts.

4. Vistaraks should maintain a diary of their work everyday and log all names, addresses and experiences.

5. Vistaraks should have a sound knowledge of Sangh’s objectives and method of work…

10. Vistaraks should carry with them various types of literature e.g. Sangh Sandesh, Sangh Mail, Prarthana, geet book, khel, book, NHSF material, Sewa leaflets etc…

14. Vistaraks should have basic knowledge about the sangh parivaar FISI, BJP, NHSF, SEWA, KAT, VHP and Hinduism.[1]

MODELLED ON THE INDIAN RSS

The HSS UK structure is modelled on that of the Indian RSS. This includes the priority given to creating cells (shakhas) and creating organizations that mirror the RSS sangh parivar. The HSS UK shares the same ideology as the RSS and uses the same languages as the Indian RSS, including the various officer titles of the latter[2]. In 2002, the HSS reported 72 weekly physical and ideological training cells (shakhas) in 38 UK cities which were attended by about 1500 individuals. The HSS UK shakha structure is organized by zones that cover the UK. HSS UK shakhas are run in almost exactly the same way as RSS shakhas. This includes the same RSS prayers, hymns and slogans, devotion to the RSS saffron flag, adulation of K. B. Hedgewar and M. S. Golwalkar (the first two RSS supreme leaders), physical exercises, sports, martial arts, and ideological inculcation sessions. The HSS and RSS shakhas do not allow any images of or prayers to Hindu Gods or Goddesses. Prayer is to the RSS saffron flag of the ‘Hindu nation’ and devotion is to the RSS founder and leaders. The HSS UK also has a uniform, one different from that used in Indian RSS cells.

The HSS UK and its affiliates celebrate the same six festivals (utsavs) as the Indian RSS. The HSS UK also organizes an important annual training camp (Sangh Shiksha Varg). This is an 8 to 10-day intensive training camp for nominated members who are moving up the HSS hierarchy. It also organizes the national HSS activist camp (National Karyakarta Varg) as well as other camps related to activities in Europe and India.

Figure 13: HSS UK 9-day annual training camp, Leicester, 2000. Sangh Sandesh, July - August 2000, vol. XI, no. 4, page 1.

The HSS shares the same ideology as the RSS. The HSS UK’s ideology is given in its publications, Sangh Darshan (RSS philosophy), Patheya (a publication of the RSS founders’ philosophy and quotes), Sangh Sandesh (its regular newsletter), in other publications and material used in its shakhas, and in other publications recommended by the Hindu Sahitya Kendra (Hindu Literature Centre). These include writings by and about Golwalkar, Hedgewar, Savarkar, the RSS and writings on Aryanism and Hindutva by David Frawley, Koenraad Elst and other extremist Hindutva ideologues.

UK AFFILIATES

The HSS UK family (sangh parivar) makes up a closely related set of Hindutva organizations operating in the UK. These share the same aims based on RSS ideology. At the annual general meeting of the HSS UK, reports are received from each of the main UK sangh parivar organizations, the progress of sangh work discussed and priorities planned for the coming year. In addition to HSS, Sewa International, Kalyan Ashram Trust (discussed previously) and the VHP (discussed below), other Hindutva groups operating in the UK include:

National Hindu Students Forum – the HSS student affiliate, modelled on the RSS’s Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad. NHSF has affiliated Hindu societies in some thirty UK universities. It has two regular publications (Hum and Inforum) and an e-list. The NHSF vice president stated in August 2003 that ‘We have no direct link with them [the HSS UK]. There is no religious or political affiliation; we are not funded or bonded to them, but there is a moral affiliation as with every other Hindu organization.’[3] In fact, NHSF was formed by the HSS. The NHSF address is the same as the HSS UK address. The NHSF website states ‘NHSF enjoys a close working relationship with HSS UK and benefits from the active involvement of the ‘karyakartas’ (volunteers) within HSS. The spread of this organization throughout towns and cities in the United Kingdom means that branches of HSS form an integral part of the support network for NHSF UK.’[4]

Hindu Sevika Samiti – the HSS women’s affiliate formed in 1975. It is modelled on the RSS women’s affiliate (Rashtra Sevika Samiti) and has about thirty branches (shakhas) in the UK, attended weekly by around 500 women and girls.

Overseas Friends of the BJP (OFBJP) formed in 1991 to provide support for the Indian BJP and BJP politicians. OFBJP organized the visit of Narendra Modi to Britain in 2003; every single independent report into the Gujarat pogroms in 2002 indicted him personally for his role in encouraging, condoning and supporting the anti-Muslim violence that took place.

Hindu Sahitya Kendra – a bookshop disseminating Hindutva literature in the UK and based at the HSS UK headquarters.

Friends of India Society International – formed in the mid-1970s during Indira Gandhi’s emergency period. It promotes Hindutva politicians and views in the UK.

Deendayal Research Institute – a Hindutva ideological seminar group.

Other smaller outfits include Hindu Human Rights and small groups of Bajrang Dal / Hindu Unity[5] supporters.

Interestingly, the HSS trustees report for 2001, intended for public bodies, mentions the activities of some of these organizations, such as Sewa International, but not others such as the VHP, the NHSF, the KAT, the OFBJP, the Sevika Samiti or FISI. In contrast, an extract from the 1999 HSS UK annual general meeting report shows how HSS UK is the key body to which other sangh parivar organizations report:

The annual Pratinidhi Sabha [AGM of central assembly] of Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (UK) was held on 28 November 1999 at Wellingborough. Shri Surender Shah, sahkaryawah [general secretary] of UK, chaired the baithak [meeting]. Man. Shri Shankar Rao ji Tatwawadi introduced Vishwa Vibhag’s pracharak [RSS international section’s full-time worker], Shri Ram Madhav Vaidya, who has come to the UK to replace Dr Sanjiv Oza. Shri Ram ji will be based at the Sangh Karyalah [HSS headquarters] at Leicester. He is 3rd year OTC [RSS officer training camp] trained and has doctorate degree in Sanskrit. He will be carrying forward the prachar [RSS propagation] work in Europe whose sound foundation was laid by Dr Oza…Shri Pravinbhai Ruparelia, Karyawah [secretary] of HSS(UK), presented his annual report. He noted ten major events which were organized in the UK in the last year. He reported that there are now 63 upa shakhas [cells] in the UK with weekly average attendance of 1200. The three Sangh karyalahs (Leicester, Birmingham and Bradford offices) are vibrant with activities and the total Guru Daxina [donations to the RSS saffron flag] has increased. He announced that 114 shiksharthis [educational propagators] received training at the 8-day long SSVE [HSS annual training camp] held at Hounslow. The 16th Hindu Marathon held at Warwick University with participation from local Sikh bandhus was a big success. A number of dignitaries had visited UK particularly those who had come to attend the 6th Vishwa Hindi Sammelan. He praised the work of VHP, FISI, OFBJP, NHSF, Sewa International and KAT in the field of education, political awareness, student welfare and charitable projects. Hindu Sahitya Kendra has now become a leading supplier of books and educational material related to Hindu way of life… Additional emphasis is to be paid in holding vibhag wise shivirs [department-based camps] during Easter holidays to celebrate 75 years of Sangh [RSS] and 25 years of Samiti [RSS women’s affiliate]. Hindu Marathon report was presented by Rajni Parmar. Shanti Mistry reported on Sewa International’s work …Shri Kishore Ruparelia presented the report [on VHP UK]. VHP(UK) is taking active part in the [Millennium] dome project. NHSF [National Hindu Students Forum] report was presented by Anand Vyas. Total number of chapters is 35 with 3000 members…KAT [Kalyan Ashram Trust] report was delivered by Jitu Kotecha…Hindu Sevika Samiti [women’s affiliate] report was presented by Shmt Vidula Ambekar. There are 32 shakhas with average sankhya [numbers attending] of 555[6].

Other HSS annual general meeting reports similarly show how the HSS UK is the key body to which VHP UK, the Sevikas, NHSF, Sewa International and KAT report to. If it appears odd that formally independent organizations in the UK account annual to the HSS UK, this is a key method of sangh parivar working, modelled on the RSS’s family in India. These UK organizations also work under the direct guidance of the Indian RSS, as will be seen shortly.

THE HSS, RELIGIOUS SECTARIANISM AND RELIGIOUS HATRED

In a Channel 4 News report in 2002, the secretary of the HSS UK stated that

It boils up my blood. Hindus in India have gone through a period of humiliating subjugation for the past seven hundred years. We are prepared to forgive for that. We cannot forget it.[7]

If this is an irresponsible statement from the national secretary of a UK charity to make, it is nevertheless part and parcel of the HSS UK’s ideology. Sangh Sandesh, the HSS newsletter, regularly carries Hindutva sectarian propaganda, political material from sangh parivar organizations in India, regular reports on RSS, VHP and BJP activities in India, or anti-minority articles relating to Muslims and Christians.

This is sufficient to challenge the claim by HSS UK / SIUK that it is not sectarian. Why, for example, would the followers of a UK charity be interested in, and only in, the changes in the hierarchy of the Indian RSS, the activities of the Indian VHP, the electoral fortunes of the BJP, the activities of Sewa Bharati and VKA, and the need to oppose Christianity or ‘predator religions’ in India? Similarly, what possible charitable purpose is served by the following:

To prove our point, just look at the following statistics about the prisoners in Britain provided by Ven D Fleming of the HM Prison Service: Total prisoners 64,589, Hindus inc. Sikhs 795, Muslims 4195. The above data was taken on 31 March 1998. In among the so called Asian prisoners, over 84% are Muslims. It is known from other surveys that these Muslim prisoners come from Pakistan and Bangladesh. Whilst the Hindus (including Sikhs) are almost entirely from India. It should be noted that the number of Indians in Britain (about a million) is twice the number of Pakistanis. In an editorial in The Times newspaper, it was acknowledged that Indians now outperform their white compatriots at school. All Asians face same hardships and prejudices. Without causing any more controversy, we leave it for our readers to judge and conclude why are there more Muslims in prisons.[8]

The Shakha is thus a crucible where Swayamsevaks are moulded and who are in turn spread into the society and all walks of life. A simple analogy to Shakha is a university where one learns and develops skills which are then utilised fruitfully in the progress of the society. The work of moulding Swayamsevaks in Shakha is thus a long lasting process. The difference between a University and Shakha is that a student leaves University at a certain time whereas a Swayamsevak never leaves Sangh.[9]

Does this mean that if one becomes a member of this particular charity, one can never leave? The overlapping nature of UK Hindutva organizations is also illustrated in the example of Bipin Patel. He is a regular letter and column writer for the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh newsletter[10]. He also wrote an article for Sewa International UK’s website titled ‘SEWA International: a noble face of humanity’[11]. He was also the VHP’s representative on the London Borough of Brent’s Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education[12] and is a key figure in the Brent Hindu Council.

A ‘hard-core Hindutva activist’ from the UK was reported in the Indian national newspaper, The Hindu, as stating that Gandhi’s murderer, Nathuram Godse’s ‘outlook and action’ had to be advocated, ‘every anti-national Mulla-Commie [i.e. Muslim-Communist]’ had to be challenged and ‘every drop of blood needs to be avenged. And we are ready at any cost.’ He also stated that:

We see the merit in Gandhis, but only after all theology-inspired terrorists are reduced to dead meat…And if, in the meantime, a Gandhi comes to create hurdles in the way, then that Gandhi would need to be put out of the way.[13]

LINKS WITH THE INDIAN RSS

There are extensive links between the HSS UK / VHP UK and their Indian counterparts. These multiplied and strengthened following a decision at the World RSS Camp held at Bangalore in 1990 to divide overseas RSS work into specific zones and expand work in Europe.

The Indian RSS is quite open about its links with the UK organizations. For example, the RSS publication RSS Spearheading National Renaissance specifically mentions the HSS UK as part of the sangh’s mission abroad, and describes the 1984 Bradford Hindu Sangam, a gathering organized by the HSS[14]. Another RSS publication, Sanghshaktih Vijetreeyam, published on the occasion of the World RSS Camp held in Gujarat in December 1995, a camp attended by HSS UK representatives, describes the activities of the HSS UK, the Hindu Sevika Samiti UK, the VHP UK, FISI, NHSF, OFBJP, Kalyan Ashram Trust, Sewa International, Hindu Sahitya Kendra, the Hindu Marathon, Bharat Vikas Parishad International UK and the Hindu International Medical Mission UK all as part of the RSS’s Hindutva mission in the UK[15]. This RSS publication also includes articles on the National Hindu Students Forum, the Hindu Sevika Samiti and the Hindu Marathon. One article in this Indian RSS publication is authored by a key Sewa International UK worker and vice chair who discusses Hindus in the UK, the Ayodhya temple campaign in the UK and the like. Another Indian RSS publication, Sarsanghchalak goes abroad, under the heading ‘Sangh work abroad’ similarly mentions Sewa International and Kalyan Ashram Trust UK. It lists sangh organizations in the UK as the HSS, VHP, KAT, FISI, HSK, NHSF, OFBJP, HS Samiti, Hindu Vigil, Hindu Marathon, Sewa International and the Dr. Hedgewar Institute. It also mentions Sangh Sandesh (the HSS UK newsletter) and Hum (the National Hindu Students Forum periodical) as among ‘notable’ sangh (RSS) publications[16]. Various other Indian RSS publications, including RSS – A vision in action, Hindus Abroad – dilemma: dollar or dharma, RSS – Widening Horizons describe similar associations between the RSS and the HSS UK.

These are not paper links but deep connections that work in both directions. The last two supreme leaders of the RSS, (the late) Rajendra Singh and K.S. Sudarshan have been on tours to the UK at which they have addressed HSS UK members and given guidelines for HSS for work in the UK. The visit by Rajendra Singh to Europe from 13 – 25 April 1995 was the first ever visit abroad by an RSS supreme leader (sarsanghchalak). An RSS publication listed Rajendra Singh’s talks to UK sangh parivar groups as including:

14.5.1995 Workers Responsibility (Guidance given by Mananeeya Rajju Bhayya (Prof. Rajendra Singh) in the introductory meeting held at Ilford Hindu Centre).

24.4.95 Code of Guidelines to Workers (Valedictory meeting at Stanmore, North London).

24.4.95 A vibrant society is adequately creative. Address to swayamsevaks at Madhav Shakha, Edgware.

15.4.95 Guidance to campers in the Hindu Sevika Samiti Shibir (Phasels Wood scout camp).

15.4.95 Re-establishment of Hindu Glory. (Address of Respected Sarsanghchalak of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh to the delegates session of the UK branch of Vishwa Hindu Parishad, held at Bharatiya Vidya Bhawan, London).

24.5.95 Guidance to Young Workers (Address in a meeting of young workers in Kenton, London).

22.4.95 Keshav Pratishthan (Address on the occasion of inaugurating the central office of Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh at Leicester).

22.4.95 Rays of light spreading from Bharat (Address at the function organized by Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh UK at Leicester).

14.4.95 Dr Ambedkar. (Address on the occasion of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar’s 104th birth anniversary celebration organized by the Friends of India Society International, London). [17]

Figure 14: NHSF UK annual lecture by the then RSS supreme leader Rajendra Singh, SOAS, 1995. The theme of the talk was ‘Hindutva – an alternative’.

The RSS leader addressed several events organized by the HSS UK, VHP UK, the Sevikas, the National Hindu Students Forum and FISI. He also provided guidelines for HSS work in the UK. He referred to the work that Sewa International must undertake in the UK while continuing to do work for Indian projects. He also said: the shakha system and the RSS tradition of donations to its saffron flag (guru dakshina) could be modified to suit the local situation; that sangh activities were perpetual and could not be altered, but some could ‘be varied to be in harmony with the prevailing situation’; and that elders and post-university HSS members could devote more time for sangh work after a survey of UK work had determined requirements.[18]

The leader of the Indian RSS was therefore providing a code of guidance to a UK registered charity on its areas of priority. Further, the HSS UK acknowledges that it seeks guidance from the most senior layer possible of the Indian RSS. For example, after Rajendra Singh’s replacement as RSS leader by K.S. Sudarshan in 2000, the HSS UK stated:

It remains to be seen how the new Sarsanghchalak [RSS supreme leader], Maneeya [venerable] Sudarshan ji, views Sangh [RSS] work outside Bharat [India]. What new direction is to be given to the karyakartas [activists] who have worked relentlessly to preserve Hindu unity in Western countries?[19]

The HSS UK did not have to wait long. The current RSS supreme leader, K. S. Sudarshan, referred to as ‘our supreme leader’ by the HSS UK, visited the UK at the end of August 2000, a few months after he became RSS head. During this visit he addressed various HSS UK activities:

Our Sarsanghchalak [our supreme leader], Mananaiya [venerable] Sudarshan ji, arrived in London on 26 Aug. On 27th morning, 550 swayamsevaks and sevikas from all over the UK met him in West London. Later that day the Karya Karni Mandal [HSS central executive committee] also met him along with karyakartas [activists] from other Sangh related projects. He addressed a public function held in his honour at the famous Swaminarayana Mandir at Neasden, North London.[20]

In addition to Rajendra Singh, K.S. Sudarshan and RSS joint general secretary H.V. Seshadri, several other prominent figures from the Indian RSS have been visitors to the UK HSS or intimately involved in UK HSS activities:

Satyamitranand Giri (patron of the VHP UK and VHP International, and a key figure in both VHP and RSS activities in India) and the hate-filled Ashok Singhal, working president of the VHP, attended the HSS UK’s annual training camp (Sangh Shiksha Varg) in 1995.


Shankar Rao Tatwawadi, in charge of the RSS’s international section (Vishwa Vibhag Samyojak) was very closely associated with the HSS UK. He stayed with the HSS and attended numerous HSS UK events.


The late Laxmanrao Bhide maintained close ties with, and was another important visitor and advisor to the HSS UK. Bhide was one of the first full-time workers of the Indian RSS (he became a worker during the Golwalkar period) and a key figure in expanding RSS international activities[21]. In India, he was president of the Deendayal Research Institute, an RSS intellectual outfit.


Shripati Shastri, all-India joint media and publicity head (sahasampark pramukh) and senior functionary of the RSS, visited the UK in the summer of 2000 where he attended an HSS training camp (European Sangh Shiksha Varg) held in Leicester from 28 July to 6 August[22], among other events. At a public gathering in India in which RSS head K.S. Sudarshan and the VHP general secretary Ashok Singhal were present, Shastri declared that ‘no minority can be safe in any country by constantly irritating the majority community.’ He also accused ‘foreign missionaries and their supporters of being part of a great international conspiracy to defame Indian and Hindu society and brand them as intolerant lot before the international community’[23].


Ranga Hari, an RSS full-time worker since 1951, all-India RSS head of ideological inculcation and patron of the RSS education affiliate Vidya Bharati, visited the HSS UK in 2001 and was a keynote speaker at the HSS annual training camp held in August of that year.


Charanjeev Singh president of the RSS’s Rashtriya Sikh Sangat met with various HSS UK activists in 1999.[24]


Balaram Das Tandon, a full-time RSS worker visited a shakha in West Bromwich in 1999.[25]
Various junior and senior BJP politicians, including L.K. Advani and Narendra Modi have also visited sangh parivar organizations in the UK.


Similarly, the HSS UK Hindu Marathon has been attended by senior RSS worker and now RSS joint secretary H.V. Seshadri (Bradford 1984), the late Laxmanrao Bhide (Bradford 1984, Birmingham 1985), the now Indian RSS head K. S. Sudarshan (Milton Keynes 1989), the patron of the VHP International and a figure long involved in Indian RSS activities, Satyamitranand Giri (Milton Keynes 1989), the BJP’s Murli Manohar Joshi (Birmingham 1991), and the RSS labour affiliate head and RSS ideologue, Dattopant Thengadi (London 1992).

It is important to also consider the role of former HSS UK full-time worker, Ram Vaidya. He is one of the two sons of M.G. (Baburao) Vaidya, a senior RSS figure and RSS media spokesperson. Ram Vaidya, himself a senior RSS propagator, was seemingly sent in 1999 from the RSS in India to become a full-time worker for the HSS UK, to evaluate the operations and structure of the HSS UK, and to expand HSS work in Europe, including coordination of European annual training camps (Sangh Shiksha Vargs). After a year of full-time work, he presented his views to the HSS annual general meeting held in Walsall in November 2000.

I have met a lots of youngsters. I find that they have ‘imagination’ but not much ‘knowledge’. This is due to lack of reading. We need to introduce new books and literature to the youngsters which is relevant to them. I am pleased to see that ‘Inspiration’ an English translation of ‘Patheya’ [RSS founder Hedgewar’s quotes] is due to be published in the UK. We need to remember that ours is a cadre based organization. We need to create karyakartas [workers] through Shiksha vargs [camps], shakhas [cells] and utsavs [RSS festivals]. But here I notice that except the Sangh Shiksha Varg [annual training camp] there is no intense training. We need to start ‘Abhyaas Varg’ [ideological study groups] and we need to use bauddhic [ideological] material to explain the significance of all our activities.[26]

The RSS strategy could not be more clearly put. Similarly, in a report to a HSS UK central executive committee meeting held on 13 May 2001 in Coventry, he gave recommendations regarding HSS / Sewa International work in the aftermath of the Gujarat earthquake:

Following the unfortunate earthquake in Gujarat, Sewa’s action was rapid and admiring. But, now that the dust has settled, we should review our work and see how we should go into action. During my time in Britain, I have seen that all the British people are charitable. In the UK, I have seen that people donate to charities on the street. In any charitable or social work, we must appreciate the difference between those who provide the ‘support’ and the cause which is ‘supported’. Any social or a charity work is like a pyramid, the base (‘support’) should be bigger than the work being supported. We need to be aware that for stability the base must be wider just like that of a pyramid. Otherwise, in the long term, the whole project will be overturned. The base must stay broad based. Our Sangh’s method of work is quite straightforward. We have the Shakhas [cells] to create trained, organized and disciplined karyakartas [workers] to work in the society. Other organizations are created to work in the society but remember that the base [shakha] is the key. The karyakarta [worker] must perform the work with ‘detached involvement’ i.e. once the job is done he should go back to the Shakha [cell] work. I recommend that the split should be 80 - 20. 80% of the work should be base building [creating shakhas] and 20% should be for other organizations which are supported by the shakhas. We need to pay attention to the root not the leaves or the fruits. Our organizational management of the Shakha [cell] work should be such that more emphasis is put on the ‘support’ rather than the ‘supported’.[27]

Again, the RSS organization and consolidation (sangathan) strategy is clear and has priority over any other activities. Charity work for Gujarat earthquake victims had the potential to destabilise the shakha regime of the HSS by leading to neglect of its shakha work. Instead, the overwhelming work of the HSS UK, eighty percent of its labour, must be directed towards shakha building, recruitment and sangathan, whereas only twenty percent should be placed on other work. HSS members should undertake charitable work not out of an intrinsic, neutral commitment to a charitable cause, but as ‘detached involvement’, a temporary phase in the primary work of sangathan and shakha building.

ATTENDANCE AT MAJOR RSS / VHP EVENTS IN INDIA

Figure 15: European HSS and VHP members attending the World RSS Camp, Bombay, December 2000, and dressed in RSS uniform. Sangh Sandesh, Nov-Dec 2000, vol. XI, no. 6, p. 24.

HSS UK, VHP UK and National Hindu Students Forum activists have also attended various RSS and VHP meetings in India. Each RSS World Camp (Vishwa Sangh Shibir) held in India is attended by a delegation of HSS UK activists. Reports on RSS decisions are also presented to HSS UK meetings. Younger activists from the National Hindu Students Forum have attended RSS training camps in India. For example, an NHSF joint general secretary and HSS activist attended a three week RSS training camp in Bangalore in 2001[28] and a former chairperson of the NHSF attended an RSS–VHP international camp in Baroda in December 1995, in addition to various other activities abroad related to the sangh parivar[29]. Several HSS and VHP UK delegates attended the RSS World Camp (Vishwa Sangh Shibir) held in Bombay from 26 December 2000 to 2 January 2001. This included the head of the VHP Wembley branch[30] and the ideological head of the HSS UK and (until 2003) editor of its newsletter, who also led one of the sessions at this camp[31]. The national chairperson of the VHP UK also attended the VHP International Coordination meeting of the Indian VHP in Ahmedabad from 23–24 December 2000, just prior to the RSS camp[32]. Various other visits to RSS and VHP events in India are regularly reported in HSS or VHP UK periodicals.

One such report mentions the visit of the charity correspondent of the VHP UK to RSS projects and shakhas in Jammu and Kashmir

I met Shri Chaman Lal ji who looks after all the sweyamsevaks [RSS members] from foreign countries. We discussed various issues. He was mainly concerned that the students and sweyamsevaks between the ages of 18 to 25 do not come to shakha [RSS cells] because it is held every morning and they are too busy in their studies and they cannot attend the shakha. I told him that they should have a shakha once or twice a week in the evening or at the weekend so that shakha is in touch with the students and they can come when they are not studying in the evenings. He liked the idea. During my short stay in India I tried to have meetings and exchange views with Sangh Karyakartas [RSS workers].[33]

This also illustrates the overlapping associations between the HSS UK and the VHP UK, and between these and the sangh parivar in India. Other reports describe supporters going from the UK to work with the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram[34] and younger members attending RSS training camps in India.

THE VISHWA HINDU PARISHAD UK

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad UK (VHP UK) was formed in 1971 and acquired charitable status in 1972. Its charity registration number is 262684 and its registered office is in Manchester. It describes its aims as: advancement of Hindu Dharma (Religion); promoting education of Hindu Dharma; promoting studies of, and researches in the field of Hindu religion, history, sociology, ethics, and to make known the results of such studies and research; relief of poverty, sickness, and distress; and promotion of harmonious inter-race and inter-community relations[35].

The VHP UK has around 12 branches in the UK, including in London, Bolton, Bradford Leicester, Manchester, Birmingham, Northampton and Nottingham. The first VHP temple was established in Bolton in the mid-1970s, followed by two other temples, including the VHP Ilford Hindu Centre in north-east London. The VHP UK is involved in the Interfaith Network (UK), various Standing Advisory Councils on Religious Education (SACREs), and various local Hindu Councils. It worked with ISKCON (‘the Hare Krishnas’) around the campaign from the mid-1980s by ISKCON against Hertsmere Council, which had attempted to prevent public worship at Bhaktivedanta Manor. It has also been involved in several campaigns against what it believes to be insulting representations of Hindu deities.

LINKS BETWEEN VHP UK & HSS UK

The VHP UK is strongly associated with the HSS UK and reports annually to the HSS UK general meeting. The trustees and office bearers of the VHP UK are associated with the HSS UK. For example, the permanent trustee of the VHP UK is also the head (sanghchalak) of the HSS UK, and the religious education spokesperson of the VHP UK is also the ideological head (bauddhik pramukh) of the HSS UK and former editor of the HSS’s newsletter, Sangh Sandesh. There is a number of other such associations between the VHP UK and other UK sangh parivar organizations. Similarly, the editorial board for the VHP UK book, Explaining Hindu Dharma: a guide for teachers (Vishwa Hindu Parishad UK, 1996), included the HSS UK leader (sanghchalak), the HSS UK ideological head, and an RSS full-time worker based in the UK and working to expand RSS activities abroad. Several others involved in the production of this book are strongly associated with Indian VHP or Indian RSS activities.

The VHP UK has also received support from government bodies. The VHP UK has had some of its key figures recognised in ‘citizenship awards’ and ‘man of the year’ awards by local councils. Similarly, the VHP (and the Overseas Friends of the BJP, Sewa International and the National Hindu Students Forum) have received support from politicians such as Labour MP Barry Gardiner, formerly chairperson of the parliamentary Labour Friends of India group. The director of the Labour Friends of India is also involved in the HSS’s Sewa International and FISI activities. He is the brother of the Overseas Friends of the BJP (UK) general secretary and HSS UK officer who organized the visit of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi to the UK in 2003.

Figure 16: Barry Gardiner, Brent North Labour MP at VHP Wembley event. Sangh Sandesh, November-December 2001, vol. XII, no. 6, p. 24.

LINKS WITH VHP INDIA

The VHP UK explains that:

VHP is a worldwide body. There are five main aspects covered at international level:


[1] Dharma Jagaran Sent Mandal – A body of religious leaders constituted of all schools of religion indigenous to Bharat (India).


[2] Hindu Heritage Pratishthan (HHP).


[3] Sewa (Public Service), cultural and constructive endeavours.


[4] Establishing and strengthening links with culturally similar/indigenous groups, e.g. (i) Buddhist – World Buddhist Cultural Foundation (WBCF). (ii) Pagans, Gypsies, people of Maya and Inca origin, etc. – Institute of Spiritual Culture (ISC).


[5] Organization of VHP national committees and co-ordination with other like-minded organizations… The ICC [International Coordinating Committee] in Bharat (India) coordinates VHP activities in different countries. At present the international work is divided into five zones around the world. Committees at national level work in harmony with the VHP aspirations and according to the rules of the respective countries[36].

In 1984, it was decided that the VHP central office in Delhi would be the main body having ‘jurisdiction over the entire organization of the world’. The key decision was as follows:

The question of relationship of VHP in India (Bharat) vis-à-vis VHP units in foreign countries was examined in March 1984 by a sub-committee with Shri Hans Raj Gupta as Chairman and it recommended that the VHP central office New Delhi is the Head Office and its Board of Trustees is the Supreme Body having jurisdiction over the entire organization of the world. Wherever there are VHP units abroad, these should either become branches or affiliated to the Central VHP, New Delhi. A fee of Affiliation or an amount as central fund should be decided in consultation with the foreign units. This recommendation was accepted by the Board of Trustees at its meeting held in March 1984.[37]

This means that the VHP in India has control over the direction and policy of the VHP branches in all other countries. No VHP branch outside India can claim it is unrelated to the VHP India.

Latterly, the VHP’s international activities have been organized through the VHP Overseas (VHPO), a body set up in November 2002 to more firmly coordinate VHP activities outside India through a governing council and across five geographical zones (America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Pacific). The VHPO’s chairperson is B.K. Modi, who is also the working president (external) of the VHP India. The VHP UK’s masthead reproduces the Indian VHP’s claim to represent ‘1 billion Hindus’ – all the Hindus in the world. Its logo and motto (dharmo rakshati rakshitah) is the same as that of the Indian VHP.

Figure 17: VHP rifle training camp in Patan, northern Gujarat. Source: Dionne Bunsha, ‘At a Hindutva factory: an account of a visit to a training camp run by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad’, Frontline, vol. 20, issue 12, 7–20 June 2003.

Further, the patron of the VHP UK is Swami Satyamitranand Giri. He has been involved in the Indian VHP since its formation in the mid-1960s. He has also been involved in supporting numerous Indian RSS activities. He is the head of the Bharat Mata mandir in Hardwar, Uttar Pradesh state. Satyamitranand was also stated to be the inspiration behind the VHP’s Virat Hindu Sammelan (great Hindu gathering) organized in Milton Keynes in 1989. Similarly, VHP UK representatives have been directly involved in RSS and other sangh parivar activities abroad. This has included VHP UK activists attending Indian VHP and Indian RSS events and camps.

Figure 18: VHP UK National Chairperson seated second from left, next to Pravin Togadia, VHP India general secretary, at Indian VHP International Coordination meeting, Ahmedabad, Gujarat, 23-24 December 2000. Source: VHP Newsletter (Manchester Branch), April 2001, p. 2.

It has also included actively supporting the work of other sangh parivar organizations, such as that of the Hindu Heritage Pratishthan (Foundation) which has taken to promoting Hindutva among Roma and ‘pagan’ groups that it claims are originally Hindu. For example, the national organizing secretary and VHP UK trustee, attended, together with Ranga Hari (ideological director of the Indian RSS), a conference on ethnic religions in Lithuania in 2001[38]. The VHP UK led the coordination in the UK of the Indian VHP’s Vishwa Dharam Prasar Yatra (a global ‘journey’ to promote Hindutva) in 2001, following a meeting held in Manchester in March 2001 between B. K. Modi of the Indian VHP and the VHP UK.[39] Regular reports of Indian VHP activities are also presented to VHP UK and HSS UK events[40].

In December 1999, a meeting at the VHP Ilford Hindu Centre was attended by a leading member of the Marg Darshak Mandal[41]. Further, in October 1999, the VHP Newham branch held a meeting with a preacher, Sharadbhai Vyas. This meeting was also attended by the HSS UK leader and the VHP UK general secretary. Sharadbhai Vyas is described in the RSS newspaper, Organiser, thus:

Shri Sharadbhai Vyas is associated with the VHP activities in India and has an ashram in Dharampur, Gujarat, in the vicinity of the Dangs where Christian missionaries are allegedly active in converting innocent tribal Hindus.[42]

In 1989, the VHP UK, together with HSS volunteers, organized the Virat Hindu Sammelan (Great Hindu Assembly) in Milton Keynes. While the Sammelan was formally organized by a separate committee (representing VHP UK and HSS UK individuals), VHP UK accounts show entries for the ‘Virat Hindu Sammelan’ over the relevant period. The Sammelan was attended by an estimated 55,000 Hindus. The event was solidly RSS-based, and included the RSS saffron flag ceremony and RSS songs. Key forums at this event were named after the Indian RSS founder, Hedgewar, and second supreme leader, Golwalkar. A key reason for this event was to organize UK support for the Indian VHP’s campaign to replace the sixteenth-century Babri mosque at Ayodhya with a Ram temple. Several VHP-supporting preachers from India led demands for the building of a Ram temple at Ayodhya.

Indeed, VHP UK accounts also show a small fund of about £3,800 from 1993 to 2002 which is headed ‘Ayodhya Temple Fund’. While the sum of money is very small, it is difficult to know what this could mean except that the VHP UK was raising funds in connection with the Ayodhya temple campaign during a period when the building of a Ram temple at the site of the Babri Masjid was illegal under Indian law. In an investigation by the Indian Outlook magazine, the VHP UK claimed that it has ‘not sent a penny’ for the temple. It also stated that there were ‘political hassles’ and funds could not be sent officially, and said it would provide the reporter (who was posing as a donor) with details of VHP affiliates in India that could receive funds. It also stated that funds in Rupees could be sent directly to the Ayodhya Trust in India[43].

The VHP UK website, under ‘Gujarat Earthquake Fund’ activities describes the raising of funds for ekal vidyalayas (VHP / RSS one-teacher schools) for the purposes of ‘village defence’ in border areas (those adjacent to Pakistan) and for ‘national defence’[44]. This is certainly the reason given by the VHP India for establishing such schools. Why would a UK charity be asking for donations made payable to a ‘Gujarat Earthquake Fund’ for the purposes of national or border defence and the building of new temple complexes?

The VHP UK claims to be ‘utterly opposed to intolerance based on race and religious belief, of violence and terrorist practices’. However, its sectarianism was clearly illustrated in its response to the Gujarat carnage in 2002. Its press release of 27 February 2002 claimed that the killing of almost 60 Hindus on the Sabarmati express outside Godhra was ‘a pre-meditated massacre by frenzied armed Muslim mob’[45]. It went on to state that the attack on the train was ‘an unprovoked, outrageous and pre-meditated massacre of Hindu Pilgrims…an unacceptable act of barbarism by extreme elements of the Muslim community who have been influenced by Islamic terrorist cells operating within India’. The press release also said the Babri mosque at Ayodhya was ‘a symbol of tyranny and enslavement on the scale of Stalin’s atrocities and Hitler’s genocide’ and went on to defend the illegal destruction of the mosque. However, the VHP UK’s response[46] to the carnage that followed the Godhra attack simply referred to this as ‘the Gujarat riots’ in which ‘the reaction to the murder of Hindus was natural and spontaneous’ – the ‘spontaneous’ and ‘outraged’ reaction of Hindus to the train killings. It went on to claim that it had made ‘extensive enquiries which found no evidence that any organization was responsible’ for the ‘riots’. In the VHP UK’s view, the killing of 58 Hindus was ‘an unacceptable act of barbarism’ but the killing of 2,000 Muslims was a ‘spontaneous’ and ‘natural’ reaction. This statement reproduces the Indian VHP response to the 2002 events. It is an inhumane justification for the systematic pogroms and murders unleashed in Gujarat by VHP, Bajrang Dal, BJP and RSS supporters against Indian citizens who were Muslim. We are unaware of any currently registered UK charity that has attempted to justify violence and support pogroms.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[1] Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh UK, ‘Guidelines for Vistaraks’ (Vistarak Yojna), not dated.


[2] Just as the Indian RSS has its leader, full-time propagators (pracharaks), development and expansion officers (vistaraks), joint and section secretaries (sah- and vibhag karyawahas), media and networking head (sampark pramukh), ideological heads (bauddhik pramukhs), physical training heads (shareerik pramukhs), expansion head (vistaar pramukh), service head (sewa pramukh) and inculcators (mukhya shikshaks), so does the HSS UK. The HSS UK emulates the Indian RSS hierarchy, including the annual general meeting of its central assembly (Pratinidhi Sabha), the central executive committee (Kendriya Karyakari Mandal) and its regional and departmental division.

[3] Aiden Jones, ‘Society fundamentalist links’, Warwick Boar, Summer, 2003, vol. 25, issue 21.

[4] http://www.nhsf.org.uk/aboutus.htm



[5] Hindu Unity is the official website of the VHP’s violent Bajrang Dal. It publishes a ‘blacklist’ of ‘enemies of Hindus’, accompanied by a logo of dripping blood, that includes personal details of secular, Muslim and Christian individuals. It also runs a hate-filled discussion forum hosted by ezboard. http://www.hinduunity.org/.



[6] Sangh Sandesh, November – December 1999, vol. X, no. 6, pp. 5-6.

[7] J. Miller, ‘Funding Gujarat Extremists’, Channel 4 News, 12 December 2002.

[8] Sangh Sandesh, September – October 1999, vol. X, no. 5, p.10.

[9] Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, Sangh Darshan, HSS UK, not dated, p.12.

[10] Sangh Sandesh, May - June 2000, vol. XI, no. 3, p. 7; July - August 2000, vol. XI, no. 4, p. 4; November – December 2000, vol. XI, no. 6, p. 20; May – June 2001, vol. XII, no. 3, p. 5; September-October 2001, vol. XII, no. 5, p. 20.

[11] http://www.sewainternational.com/intro.htm


[12] London Borough of Brent Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education, Minutes of the meeting on Wednesday, 8th November 2000, Centre for Staff Development, Brentfield Road, NW10 8HE.

[13] Hasan Suroor, ‘UK Sangh Parivar swears by Godse’, The Hindu 16 August 2002.


[14] Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Spearheading National Renaissance, Prakashan Vibhag, Bangalore, 1985.

[15] Sanghshakti Vijetreeyam, Antar Rashtriya Sahyog Pratishthan, Ahmedabad, 12 December 1995.

[16] Sanghshakti Vijetreeyam, Antar Rashtriya Sahyog Pratishthan, Ahmedabad, 12 December 1995, pp. 78-79.

[17] S. Tattwawadi, Sarsanghchalak goes abroad: a collection of lectures delivered by Prof. Rajendra Singh on foreign land, Suruchi Prakashan, New Delhi, 1995.

[18] S. Tattwawadi, Sarsanghchalak goes abroad: a collection of lectures delivered by Prof. Rajendra Singh on foreign land, Suruchi Prakashan, New Delhi, 1995, p. 9.

[19] Sangh Sandesh, March – April 2000, vol. XI, no. 2, p. 2.


[20] Sangh Sandesh, September – October 2000, vol. XI, no. 5, p 10. See also Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh Trustee Reports and Annual Accounts, Year ended 31 March 2001, p. 3.

[21] http://www.organiser.org/21jan2001/news2.htm


[22] Sangh Sandesh, July – August 2000, vol. XI, no. 4, p. 10.

[23] ‘Foreign Missionaries, Quit India: RSS’, Organiser, 31 December 2000.

[24] Sangh Sandesh, September – October 1999, vol. X, no. 5, p. 12.

[25] Sangh Sandesh, July – August 1999, vol. X, no. 4, p. 24.


[26] Sangh Sandesh, November – December 2000, vol. XI, no. 6, p. 8.


[27] Sangh Sandesh, May – June 2001, vol. XII, no. 3, p. 20.

[28] Sangh Sandesh, July – August 2001, vol. XII, no. 4, p.22.

[29] Manjari Katju, Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Indian Politics, Orient Longman, Hyderabad, 2003, pp. 154-155.

[30] Sangh Sandesh, January – February 2001, vol. XII, no. 1, p. 9.

[31] Sangh Sandesh, November – December 2000, vol. XI, no. 6, p. 4.

[32] VHP UK Manchester Branch, Newsletter, April 2001, p. 2.

[33] Sangh Sandesh, May – June 1999, vol. X, no. 3, pp. 4-5.

[34] Sangh Sandesh, September – October 1999, vol. X, no. 5, p. 9.

[35] http://www.vhp-uk.com/aboutus.php



[36] http://www.vhp-uk.com/activities.php, emphasis added.



[37] http://www.vhp.org/englishsite/a-origin_growth/evolution.htm

[38] Sangh Sandesh, July – August 2001, vol. XII, no. 4, pp. 10-11.

[39] Sangh Sandesh, March – April 2001, vol. XII, no. 2, p. 12.

[40] Sangh Sandesh, September – October 2000, vol. XI, no. 5, pp. 9-10.

[41] Sangh Sandesh, November – December 1999, vol. X, no. 6, pp.11-12.

[42] Nagin Merai, ‘VHP celebrates Shrimad Bhagwat Saptah’, Organiser, 21 November 1999.

[43] ‘Can’t Send It Officially: A first-hand encounter with the VHP’s international conduit’, Outlookindia.com, 22 March 1999, http://www.outlookindia.com/full.asp?sid=2&fodname=19990322&fname=affairs5


[44] http://www.vhp-uk.com/html/appeal.html



[45] Vishwa Hindu Parishad UK, Press Release, 27 February 2002.

[46] http://www.vhp-uk.com/gujarat_riots.php

2 comments:

Karyakarta said...

Great Job! you are another bigot who cannot digest the fact that there is an organization that is organizing the Hindus who have been subjugated by Muslims and Christians for 1200 years.

After converting millions of Hindus at the tip of the sword, you are now talking about all this shit as if you are messaih of the world!

If the HSS is speaking of anything but resisting the Muslim and Christian onslaught, what is wrong? You have not come out of the Mughal dominance mindset.

I would suggest you to go and attend the HSS Shakha for a month or so. Then you will know what is meant by a Shakha. Just don't talk bullcrap.

punit said...

well,just so that you know.rss boasts an muslim manch too.and i believe pakis (including u the writer of this blog) compare rss/hss with jaish,lashkar etc.i just want you guys to know,these orgs NEVER use terror acts,in fact they dont hav any approach whatsoever to such weapons and logistics to carry out.and i still want to know the murderes of thousands of hindus lashkar,can they operate a seperate hindu wing under its command,since you guys compared rss with such terror orgs.

PS: its maan-neeya or maan-niya.