Hindu Vivek Kendra

8. A hidden target

8.1 A feature of the Report is the allegation that the Sangh is working towards making the Vanvasis into Hindus. It is well known that it is not possible to define a Hindu in a way that it is possible to define a Christian, or a Muslim, or a Communist. The programme to take the Vanvasis out of the Hindu fold is not a new one, and is a continuation of the colonial programme of divide and rule. But, study after study has shown that there are many characteristics of the people dwelling in the forests, which closely match with those who live outside.

8.2 Satyakam Joshi, who did his doctorate in studying the Vanvasis in and around Dangs in South Gujarat, discusses the self-identification of the people in the area in the larger Hindu fold. He says:

· Strong community solidarities are apparent also in the way the people worship and celebrate festivals. The people, whether kokna, bhil or varli, share a common cosmology which incorporates local deities as well as Hindu gods and goddesses….. There is a common belief that Ram and Sita passed through the Dangs in their travels. According to the bhil raja of Gadhvi: "Before there were human beings, the Dangs was full of rakshashs (devils). When Ram and Sita passed through the Dangs they killed all rakshshas and gave birth to us. Ram had created us. Ram is our God." Even today when Dangis meet they use the greeting 'Ram-Ram'. It is notable also that almost all villages have an image of Hanuman, the disciple of Rama, and during festivals and religious ceremonies the people worship and give offerings to this deity. ("Tribals, Missionaries and Sadhus: Understanding Violence in the Dangs", Economic and Political Weekly, September 11, 1999.)

8.3 What is, however, absolutely clear is that the Vanvasis are definitely not Christians or Muslims. The authors of the Report seem to imply that they see nothing wrong if a church or a mosque is constructed amongst the Vanvasis, but complain about a temple being built. They see nothing wrong in the Vanvasis being converted to Christianity or Islam, but when those converted are reverted to their ancient traditions, then it is wrong.

8.4 All this makes one wonder if the authors are working along with the aggressive proselytisers of these two religions. The funding to the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram seems to be a special target. And it is well known that due to the activities of the VKA, the proselytisers have now to work harder in their business programme of raising money for conversion, since they are not able to show the results that they alleged to have achieved in the past.

· If you read Chapter 4: Funding Hate of the "report," you quickly realise that the only aim of the campaign is to halt the funding of the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram, Vanvasi Kalyan Parishad, Vivekananda Kendra, Vanvasi Seva Sangh, Sewa Bharati, and Ekal Vidyalays -- ALL being educational institutions set up for the upliftment of Dalits and Adivasis. Those whom the vultures target... (Emphasis in the original.)

8.6 Let us also have a look at a PTI news item, "Foreign funds -- VHP too a recipient, say Catholic Union", (The Indian Express, Nov 2, 1999). It quotes Dr Walter Fernandes, former director of Indian Social Institute (ISI) as follows:

· The VHP receives the same if not more funds from western countries through fund raisers and other events. Organisations like Akhil Bharatiya Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram have launched advertisement campaigns in western media to raise money in the name of tribal uplift.

8.7 Dr Walter Fernandes is a Jesuit priest, and is one of the persons actively involved the propaganda section of the Roman Catholic Church. The Indian Social Institute is a front for the Roman Catholic Church, and tries to give a secular image to communal programmes. One has also to note the date of above news item, namely November 1999, and then consider if there is not a sustained campaign to try and stop the work of the Sangh in this are.

8.8 As if on cue, after the Report comes out, the All India Christian Council takes cognisance of it, and as per a report in The Hindu ("VHP carrying out hate campaign: Christian council", November 29, 2002).

· "The Ekal Vidyalayas were indulging in hatemongering and perpetrating hatred against Christians by assiduously building up hate zones, and the Christian community in those areas were living in fear," according to Sajan K. George, national convener of the Council.

8.9 In its response to the press statement issued by IDRF, we can see yet another example of the hidden target. At one place, the authors of the Report say:

8.10 The tragedy is that the authors of the Report criticise the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram for undertaking service programmes in the region, which have had a more lasting effect than that of the Christian missionaries. It would appear to us that the reason is that the activities of the Sangh in the Vanvasi areas has given a severe setback to the proselytisation activities of the Christian missionaries. Sulekha.com reports:

· The greatest challenge to the Bible inspired mission of the NLFT comes from the Sangh Parivar's Banbasi Kalyan Kendra. The dedicated life workers of RSS have started empowering the tribals by running many educational institutions which while empowering them through imparting secular technical education also retain their tribal cultural and spiritual identity. Rather than making them disown their roots, the Kendra made the tribals feel proud of their culture. ("NLFT - The Christian Al-Qaeda", S. Aravindan Neelakandan, May 2, 2002, www.sulekha.com/articlede...cid=195857, full article is reproduced as Annexure 2.)

8.11 It would not be out of place to mention that there is an alleged link between NLFT and the Congress party. Seema Mustafa writes:

· The Congress, guided by Mr Mani Shankar Aiyar, has struck a deal with the relatively new Indigenous National Party of Tripura that has been reportedly floated by the National Liberation Front of Tripura. In a bid to cut into the votes of "these Marxists," Mr Aiyar has now picked up on a relationship with the tribal extremists that was started by his friend and mentor, the late Prime Minister Rajeev Gandhi. (The Asian Age, December 21, 2002.)