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The Sangh Pariwar in the UK

The Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (UK) is the RSS's representative in the UK. It has several affiliated organisations active across the UK. The family of HSS–affiliated organisations is called the 'sangh parivar' or 'sangh'. All these organisations promote the political and fascistic ideology of Hindutva (Hindu nationalism), the founding ideology of the Indian RSS.

The UK sangh parivar includes:

The Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS UK, charity number: 267309). The HSS has existed in the UK since the mid–1960s, and was registered as a charity in April 1974. In 2002 it had about 70 branches (shakhas) nationally. It is the core organisation to which the other organisations below are affiliated to. Its central office is based in Leicester. It maintains regular links with the Indian RSS. The HSS UK is based on the same ideology of Hindutva (Hindu nationalism) as the Indian RSS. Its shakhas are based on similar methods of physical training and ideological inculcation as those of the Indian RSS. This includes devotional reverence to K. B. Hedgewar (the founder of the Indian RSS in 1924, and promoter of Mussolini's fascist ideas in India) and M. S. Golwalkar (the second Indian RSS leader who was sympathetic to German Nazism), prayer to the bhagwa dhwaj (saffron flag), and propagation of Hindutva ideology among recruits.

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP UK). This was formed in the UK in 1971 and registered as a charity in August 1972 (charity number 262684). It is affiliated to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad International and maintains strong links with the Indian VHP. The VHP in India has been at the forefront of violent Hindutva campaigns against Muslims, Christians and secularists. The VHP UK has organised events in the UK in support of the Indian VHP's agenda, including the 1989 Virat Hindu Sammelan in Milton Keynes, which included demanding that a Ram temple be built at the site of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh.

SEWA International UK (SI). The HSS's fundraising wing. Its main fundraising activities are for RSS–led projects in India. It is not a registered charity, but uses the charity number of the HSS UK in its fundraising campaigns. It is a limited company (company number 04482628) incorporated in July 2002. It shares the same address as the HSS. The charity work of the HSS (and the Indian RSS) took off on a large scale from 1989, the year in which the RSS celebrated the birth centenary of the founder of the Indian RSS, K. B. Hedgewar.

Hindu Sevika Samiti UK – this is the HSS's women's affiliate and organises over 30 shakhas across the UK.

Kalyan Ashram Trust (KAT). Another fundraising organisation that raises funds for Indian RSS projects among adivasi populations to inculcate them in the ideology of Hindutva. It is a registered charity (charity number 261327) and shares the same address as the HSS.

Overseas Friends of the BJP – this organises lobbying and support for the Hindu nationalist BJP political party.

Friends of India Society International (FISI) – formed in October 1975.

National Hindu Students Forum (NHSF) – the largest body of Hindu students in the UK. The NHSF was created with HSS support and its UK offices shared the same address as the HSS.

Hindu Sahitya Kendra (HSK) – a Hindutva literature dissemination centre.

Political links

The UK HSS and UK VHP cannot claim they are unrelated to the Indian RSS and Indian VHP. There are regular political links and meetings between the UK HSS and VHP and the Indian RSS and VHP. For example:

On August 27 2000, the Supreme leader of the Indian RSS, K. S. Sudarshan met with several hundred HSS UK members, and representatives of various UK sangh parivar organisations.

The Central office of the UK HSS was inaugurated in 1996 by the then Supreme Leader of the Indian RSS, Rajendra Singh.

60 HSS workers and VHP UK representatives attended the World RSS Camp held in Bombay in December 2000 – January 2001, and 34 HSS members attended the Vishwa Vibhag (International) Shiksha Varg at Bangalore in August 2001. The Chair of the UK VHP attended an international meeting of the Indian VHP held at Ahmedabad in December 2000.

Sangh parivar members attended a reception in honour of BJP leader Atal Behari Vajpayee on 12 November 2001

In 1999 HSS members visited RSS branches in Jammu and Kashmir, and attended meetings of the Jammu and Kashmir VHP.

The President of the Indian RSS's affiliate Rashtriya Singh Sangat visited and talked to HSS gatherings in London, Leicester, Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Ilford in 1999.

The Bauddhik Pramukh (Chief Ideology Propagator) of the Indian RSS attended both the HSS Sangh Shiksha Varg (annual camp) and the VHP's Dharma Sansad (religious conclave) held in Leicester on 4 August 2001.

The Sangh Shiksha Varg (Europe) Leicester, 28 July–6 August 2000, which is the HSS's annual residential camp, was attended by the Sah–Sampark Pramukh of the Indian RSS. A parallel HSS event held at the same time in Rotterdam was attended by VHP UK representatives as well as Swami Satyamitranand Giri, an important supporter of VHP activities in India, and also the patron of the UK VHP.

The World Hindu Conference 2000 in Trinidad and Tobago, was attended both by HSS UK members and by Ashok Singhal (a general secretary of the Indian VHP) and K. S. Sudarshan (the Supreme leader of the Indian RSS).

The UK HSS newsletter, Sangh Sandesh regularly includes material from Indian RSS and VHP writers, events, campaigns. This includes regular reports on the leadership, structure and policy of the Indian RSS.

Ideological links

The UK HSS and UK VHP are committed to the ideology of Hindutva (Hindu nationalism) which is the core ideology of the Indian RSS and Indian VHP. Central to UK HSS shakhas (branches) is veneration of the founder of the Indian RSS (K. B. Hedgewar) and the RSS's second Supreme leader (M. S. Golwalkar). The UK HSS's philosophy (sangh darshan) is identical to that of the Indian RSS, and includes Hindutva (Hindu nationalism), sangathan (the need to organise, build and strengthen Hindus) and shakha (physical exercise and ideological inculcation of Hindu youths). The VHP UK has also actively supported the work of the VHP in India. The HSS and the Hindu Sahitya Kendra actively promote the writings of Hindutva ideologues such as Golwalkar, Savarkar, as well as current senior Indian RSS leaders, such as H. V. Seshadri.

Financial links

The VHP had an 'Ayodhya Temple Fund' from the mid–1990s. A registered charity in the UK was raising funds in connecting with the violent political campaign by the VHP in India to destroy the Babri Masjid and build a Ram temple in its place.

The main financial link between the UK sangh parivar and the Indian sangh parivar is through the activities of Sewa International and the Kalyan Ashram Trust, both fundraising arms of the UK HSS. Sewa International claims to have raised £4.3 million in connection with the Gujarat Earthquake (2001). Sewa International also raises funds for a range of other sectarian projects in India, most of which are RSS projects aimed at adivasi communities and the poor. These include the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram in India, which a Channel 4 News report in 2002 claimed was directly involved in violence and atrocities against Christian and Muslim communities in Gujarat in 1998–1999 and in 2002.

Sewa International UK raises funds for Sewa Bharati (the RSS's sectarian welfare wing). Sewa International UK funds a range of projects in India (including one–teacher schools — ekal vidyalayas, and RSS / Vidya Bharati schools) whose aim is to oppose other religious traditions and inculcate the ideology of Hindutva among recipients of RSS–style education. This is not neutral humanitarian and educational aid but a highly political and sectarian set of activities.

The international website of Sewa International (www.sewainternational.org) describes its projects among adivasi children as building feelings of patriotism and strong character, infusing in advasis the love for the nation. The students staying in Sewa–funded hostels are inculcated in 'patriotism'. The parents of these students 'have developed the same following as their children and are always ready to join hands with our army in protecting the borders' . It describes the need for 'dharmic education and samskar' , and how because of the RSS's mission 'hundreds of supported villagers have now developed respect for Hindutwa and have shown willingness to do their mile for the cause of the Hindus.' The necessity of creating shakhas and gaining recruits for the RSS's sectarian and communal projects is stressed throughout . The involvement of RSS and VHP senior leaders is evident in Sewa's activities, as is the necessity of opposing charitable efforts organised by Christians, the need to build Hindu temples and change the names of villages from Muslim to Hindu names.

The VHP Ilford Hindu Centre website (we have this archived) mentions the VHP–UK Gujarat Earthquake Fund and states that the VHP is a registered charity in the UK. It lists its projects as:

Restoration of Bet Dwarka temple, which includes reconstruction of main temple, a dining hall for 3,000 Hindu pilgrims, and the reconstruction of Dharamshala.

Ekal Vidyalaya / Gram Shikshan Mandir in Rajasthan. Under these projects, it says villages in border areas will have education centres that impart training in Gram Samaj Samarastha – inculcation of social integration – Gram Samarakshan (village defence) and Rashtra Raksha (national defence)

Sangh parivar organisations receive, or have received in the past, funding from the London Borough of Croydon, London Borough of Brent, London Borough of Waltham Forest, Bradford City Council, Leeds City Council, Coventry City Council, Awards for All. Sangh parivar organisations have received patronage from Lord Mayors in several towns and boroughs including Coventry, Tooting, Wandsworth, Brent and Bradford. They receive active support from some MPs, including Barry Gardiner MP.

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