Project Saffron Dollar

by Ra Ravishankar, December 3, 2002 original

Post 9/11, Hindu fanaticism is more dangerous (than
Islamic fanaticism) in the US, and so it makes sense to
selectively pick on Hindutva.

Project Saffron Dollar

The Campaign to Stop Funding Hate has ruffled quite a few feathers, and understandably so. Since IDRF's links with the Sangh Parivar have been laid bare, they don't bear repetition. Given this, there still arises the question - Why only pick on Hindu fanaticism? I will try answer this in what follows.

Religious fanaticism has come to be identified with Islam, courtesy bin Laden. In the aftermath of the WTC attacks, the U.S President issued an executive order on terrorist financing, "blocking property and prohibiting transactions with persons who commit, threaten to commit, or support terrorism", and designated 27 individuals and organizations - all of them Muslim - as engaged in terrorism. Incidentally, this included Harkat ul-Mujahideen (HuM), a terrorist organization operating from Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. In late October, HuM, Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and Lakshar-e-Toiba (LeT) were designated as Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs). Shortly after its suicide attack on the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative assembly, JeM's assets were frozen by the U.S State Department. LeT met with the same fate after the Indian Government accused it, along with JeM, of involvement in the suicide attack on the Indian Parliament. Also caught unawares in the dragnet was Ummah Tameer-e-Nau (UTN), which, besides being a charity engaged in relief work in Afghanistan, is also an Al Qaeda collaborator and a suspect in eight attacks in Kashmir in August which killed about 100 people. Terrorism under the garb of charity seems to be the norm, and this also applies to JeM and LeT.

As things stand now, the principal (in the Indian context) Islamic terrorist groups have been outlawed, and their assets frozen, in the U.S, U.K and India. What about their Hindu brethren who have been indicted by one and all, most recently by the Citizens Tribunal? The Indian Government can't, for obvious reasons, be expected to act against the Saffron Warriors. This being the case, someone else had to shoulder the responsibility of exposing their nefarious activities, which is what The Campaign to Stop Funding Hate did. Their report, Foreign Exchange of Hate, is an irrefutable expose of IDRF, a charity very much on the lines of UTN.

This is not all, however. While a majority of Hindutva organizations in the U.S masquerade as charities, they are not all that averse to revealing their virulent self. One of the most recent such instances was Sadhvi Rithambara's recent visit to the U.S. Infamous for her role in the demolition of the Babri Masjid, where a very cunning juxtaposition of encouragement (in the form of incendiary slogans like 'Ek dhakka aur dho, Babri Masjid thod dho [Give one more push, break down Babri Masjid]') and castigation (of the less forthcoming Swayamsevaks for their impotence) did the trick, she was at her venomous worst in New York. While ostensibly fundraising for shelters for orphans and widows, she justified the RamJanmaBhoomi movement on the pretext that "if the youth of India stood up for the cause, even Muslims will start to say Long Live Lord Ram [Yahan to meeyan log bhi bolenge, Jai Shree Ram]." The 300 odd people who had made it to the event had coughed out between $50 to $1,000 each. In her five week tour of the U.S and U.K, the fortune she amassed is anybody's guess! Rithambara's fundraising activities are apparently beyond the purview of the executive order on terrorist financing! Furthermore, in a cruel twist of irony, while she claims, in spite of having (mis)used a religious platform (Ganesh temple in New York) to spit venom against other religions, to be the upholder of Hinduism, those protesting her visit were branded anti-Hindu! Doesn't really paint a rosy picture of Hinduism to the uninitiated, does it?

If after having been outlawed by both the U.S and Indian governments, Islamic fanaticism continues to pose as much a threat as it does, doesn't Hindu fanaticism, operating under the patronage/indifference of these governments, pose a much bigger threat? Since the Indian Government only seems to be concerned with the happenings in Kashmir, isn't it even more imperative for us to do our mite to restore normalcy in Gujarat and ensure there'll be no more Gujarats? Lets start off by strangling the funding for fanaticism, be it for Hindutva as in the U.S and UK, or for Jihad as in say, Saudi Arabia. While continuing to pressurize the Governments to act, lets also petition the individual donors.