Foreign Exchange of Hate
Investigation links a US based charity with funding anti-minority violence
Feb 2003 update :
IDRF and Friends of India issue denial
A recently released report by California based The Campaign to Stop Funding Hate (SFH) categorically states that strong funding linkages exist between the India Development and Relief Fund (IDRF), a Maryland, US based charity, and Sangh Parivar organizations implicated in communal violence. The campaign has disputed IDRF's claim of being a non sectarian organization which funds development and relief operations in India. California based Cisco Systems, Hewlett Packard and Sun Microsystems have stopped the release of
matching grants to IDRF following the publication of this report. The practice up until now was that large numbers of non-resident Indians and persons of Indian origin would make donations to IDRF like they would do to any other charity, and have their employer's corporation foundations make the matching grants. Cisco has also stated that it is conducting its own investigation and Sun has stated that it expects a clarification from the U S Federal Tax Authorities
The IDRF was set up in the United States as a tax-exempt, non-profit organization in 1989 under the provisions of section 501(c)(3) of the tax code. Its official, self-stated purpose is to raise money for organizations in India assisting in rural development, tribal welfare, and urban poor. The report has assessed that according to its tax filings, the IDRF raised $ 3.8 million in the year 2000, of which it disbursed $1.7 million in relief and development work. The IDRF operates in the US under the rules
governing tax-exempt charitable organizations that are prohibited from participating in political activity or funneling money overseas to violent sectarian groups.
Section 4.4 of the report called "Foreign Exchange of Hate" addresses the question of whether IDRF has
aided or abetted Sangh sponsored violence. India Together has reproduced part of that section (edited) below. The report itself has been co-published by Sabrang Communications, India, and South Asia Citizens Web (SACW), France.
Anti-Christian Violence in Gujarat, 1998-2000
The period from 1998 to 2000 saw a spate of anti-Christian violence in the tribal belts of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa. By various reports, they included the killings of priests, the
raping of nuns, and the physical destruction of Christian institutions, schools, churches, colleges, and cemeteries. Forcible conversion of Christians to Hinduism, under threat of the loss of the right to use the local well has been documented. The "reconversion" was carried out by youths working with Swami Ashim Anand, a Hindu active in "reconverting" tribals in the area. However, the villagers have stated that prior to becoming Christians they had not been Hindu.
Swami Ashim Anand
In Gujarat, the laying of infrastructure for conversion related violence is attributed to the said Swami Ashim Anand (variously called Swami Aseemanand or Asheemanand). For the two years (1998, 1999) that he was active in the Dangs district in Gujarat, not only did the Swami conduct forcible re-conversions of tribals to Hinduism, he also spread terror amongst the local Christians by organizing large-scale, aggressively militant Hindu rallies on Christmas eve and Good Friday in tribal villages with significant Christian populations.
Swami Ashim Anand is documented by Sangh activists as part of the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram in Gujarat. Ashwin Modi, the President of the Surat unit of the Bajrang Dal, identifies the Swami as part of the "Vanvasi Kalyan Parishad, an organization affiliated to the VHP."
The Indian Express identifies Swami Ashim Anand as "the national president" of the Vanvasi
Kalyan Parishad and reports the Swami's recent presence in the Dangs as follows: After coming to Waghai a couple of years ago, the Swami had spearheaded the formation of Bajrang Dal units in every village. The recent violence against the Christian community was reportedly led by activists groomed by the Swami.
The IDRF connection
The linking of Swami Ashim Anand with the Vanvasi Kalyan Parishad and his mandate as the creation of the Bajrang Dal units in the tribal villages of Gujarat, provides a critical link to the IDRF. Chetan Gandhi, one of the Vice Presidents of IDRF, has written a report on his visit to Gujarat and to the ashram at Waghai stating that Swami Ashimanandji was in charge of the Ashram's activities in this district and that he is well respected by the community. It is not difficult to explain the presence of an IDRF vice president in Gujarat and his reporting on the activities of the Vanvasi Kalyan Parishad in Waghai. The Vanvasi Kalyan Parishad is a direct beneficiary of the IDRF. It is listed under the title "IDRF Supported Projects in Gujarat."
Adivasi Participation in the Gujarat Genocide, 2002
The anti-Muslim pogroms that took place in the state of Gujarat this year had a surprise element in them -- the active participation of the adivasis in the violence against the Muslims. Several commentators have noted the role played by Vanvasi Kalyan Parishad and the Vivekananda Kendra in actively communalizing the tribal mind, and creating the anti-Muslim ethos. Again, the pertinent connection here is that both organizations are funded by the IDRF.
Documentation exists also for a similar role played by the IDRF in supporting organizations such as Sewa Bharati, Ekal Vidyalays and the VKA implicated in violence against Christians in Madhya Pradesh. The implication of Sewa Bharati, Madhya Pradesh in anti-Christian violence has been recognized by the local State government, which has taken an extreme step of revoking the license of Sewa Bharati, an IDRF funded organization, because of its part in spreading anti-minority violence. Similarly, activists with the Vanavasi Kalyan Parishad in Kotda (also directly supported by the IDRF) led a campaign of terror against the Muslim families in the Juda village, leading to their large-scale migration to neighboring villages.
The supporters of IDRF appear to be cobbling together a response to the SFH campaign.
In what seems to be the beginning of an escalating cyber encounter in the United States,
the former blocked the web address letindiadevelop.org for their campaign. But the
web address letindiadevelop.com has been purchased by SFH and redirected to
Following the publication of this report by SFH, India Together has removed previously
published profiles of IDRF fund raising activities from these pages.
Reach The Campaign To Stop Funding Hate at: P.O. Box 20136, Stanford CA 94309, USA. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. The report: Foreign Exchange of Hate.