This is brilliant. Ramesh Kallidai, the one-man-band that is the Hindu Forum of Britain, was fux0red in the Evening Standard on Monday. All credit to organisations like AwaazSAW and many others for spreading the word about this.
Hindu and Sikh fanatics are a problem in the UK too. The only reason most of you don’t hear about it is because news editors across the press deem only Muslim fanaticism as sexy. This is a fact. So kudos to Andrew Gilligan for pushing this and running it although ES is somewhat taking credit for information that many others have put out. Gilligan too has stolen my thunder as I am in the process of writing a similar piece exposing Kallidai.
There is a lot more to this trouble-maker than what is contained on the AwaazSAW website and I’m pretty sure other papers will do more digging around now. The Commission on Integration and Cohesion report, to which Kallidai has contributed, will be out on Thursday. This story will run and run. Coincidentally my article for Foreign Policy Centre last week, and this week’s edition of Guardian’s Islamophonic (out today), mention the Hindu Forum and their activities.
THE FULL ARTICLE IS BELOW
ONE OF the key members of a Government taskforce charged with tackling “extremist ideologies” and religious segregation has close associations with violent extremists and recently praised a man who endorsed Hitler’s treatment of the Jews.
Ruth Kelly’s Commission on Integration and Cohesion will this week deliver its landmark report into how Britain can foster “inter-community harmony.” But a Standard investigation reveals that one of the commission’s own members, Ramesh Kallidai, has clear links to violent Hindu fundamentalists accused of “direct responsibility” for the slaughter of thousands of Muslims.
In Britain, Mr Kallidai has accused British Muslims of “aggressively” converting “hundreds” of British Hindu girls to Islam through intimidation and beatings. However, police forces contacted by the Standard say they have no knowledge of a single such case.
The Standard has learned that around half-a-dozen other members of the Commission on Integration and Cohesion held a late-night meeting in a bar to discuss their concerns about Mr Kallidai. At least one member, and possibly more, approached Mark Carroll, a senior official in Ms Kelly’s department, to raise concerns about Mr Kallidai’s presence on the commission. No action was taken.
“The concerns were about his links with Hindu fundamentalism and exactly how much he stands by some of the things he has said,” said one figure close to the Commission.
Mr Kallidai is secretary-general of the Hindu Forum of Britain, which claims to be the leading representative body for the country’s 600,000 Hindus. However, his appointment to the commission has horrified some British Hindus.
Lord Desai, the Labour peer, said: “White politicians look at religion very uncritically they say we must respect all cultures, all faiths. But these guys have no respect for other faiths.” Chetan Bhatt, professor of politics at Goldsmith’s College, London said: “Mr Kallidai has chosen to associate with organisations that represent in India what the BNP represents here.”
The main such organisation is a Hindu fundamentalist group known as the Vishwa Hindu Prasad (VHP.) The Hindu Forum
of Britain and the VHP’s British branch have sent out several joint press releases and have organised a number of joint events including two meetings with the Commission on Integration and Cohesion in February and March and a launch of the so-called “Hindu Charter” at the House of Commons.
Testifying to MPs on the Home Affairs Select Committee in 2004, Mr Kallidai defended the VHP, saying: “We would deny it is an association of Hindu extremists … It is a peaceful organisation.” In fact, according to Human Rights Watch, the VHP was
“directly responsible” for anti-Muslim riots in the Indian state of Gujarat in 2002, in which 2,000 Muslims died. During the disturbances, VHP leaflets described Indian Muslims as “saboteurs” and “anti-nationals” who must be cleansed from Indian soil.
In 2004, the VHP called for the destruction of a Muslim mosque and in 2005 its international secretary, Praveen Togadia, said Indian Muslims should take blood tests to prove they were not of “Arabian” descent. In 1992, the VHP led calls for the destruction of the Muslim mosque at Ayodyha, which left over 3,000 dead.
On 12 April this year, in Wembley, Mr Kallidai spoke at the British conference of another Hindu fundamentalist organisation, the RSS, a paramilitary group which wants to expel Muslims and Christians from India and turn the country into a Hindu state.
According to a report of the event in the RSS’s official newspaper, Mr Kallidai praised the organisation’s “exemplary” ideology and its ex-leader, M.S.Golwalkar. Mr Golwalkar has written and spoken approvingly of Hitler’s treatment of the Jews and said it was a model India could learn from.
Contacted by the Standard yesterday, Mr Kallidai refused to deny praising Golwalkar and the RSS. In the UK, the Hindu Forum of Britain has led a number of “cultural campaigns” to protest at what it calls “insults” to Hinduism. Mr Kallidai’s most recent campaign is to save a sacred bull, Shambo, kept at a Welsh Hindu temple but due to be slaughtered after testing positive for TB.
Last year, the HFB campaigned against an exhibition of pictures in London by India’s greatest living artist, M.F.Husain, a Muslim. The exhibition was cancelled on security grounds after three men entered the gallery and vandalised the pictures. There is no suggestion the HFB or Mr Kallidai were involved.
In 2005, Mr Kallidai got the Royal Mail to withdraw one of its Christmas stamps from open sale, claiming it was insulting to Hindus. In fact the stamp, depicting the baby Jesus and Mary with a Hindu mark on her face, is a reproduction of a famous Indian painting owned by Hindu nationalist hero Nana Phadnavis. The picture has been a much-loved attraction in the Mumbai municipal museum for years.
“This is the absolute textbook religious extremist agenda,” said one expert who has advised the Commission on Integration and Cohesion. “You whip up the ‘base’ with flimsy allegations that play to people’s emotions. The forced conversion slur, in
particular, is an exact copy of an allegation that has been made by Hindu extremists in India.” Despite the Hindu Forum of Britain’s links to extremism, the group has been supported by some British officials.
According to its website, Tony Blair has spoken of the HFB’s “success at promoting the positive achievements of the Hindu community,” and David Cameron, the Tory leader, has called it a “highly professional and authoritative voice.” The HFB’s 2006 annual ball was attended by Europe Minister Geoff Hoon and Home Office minister Tony McNulty.
Sir Ian Blair, the Met Police commissioner, attended the HFB conference in February where the allegations of “Muslim forced conversion” were made. At the gathering, Sir Ian promised to crack down on the supposed crime and said: “There is a feeling in
the Hindu community that we have not given them as much attention as other groups.”
In July 2006 another organisation linked to Mr Kallidai and the HFB, Hindu Aid, was given almost Â£140,000 of public money by the Department for International Development to “educate British Hindus about development issues.” Hindu Aid’s website describes it as a “British charity” dedicated to the relief of suffering. In fact, Hindu Aid is not a registered charity, but a limited company which has claimed exemption from the requirement to file detailed accounts.
The limited data on file at Companies House suggests that in 2005/6, the last year before the DFID grant, it had an income of only Â£2,500, suggesting that its ability to relieve suffering was limited.
Hindu Aid’s website suggests some of its money is channelled via SEWA, a charity allegedly linked to the RSS and investigated by the Charity Commission after allegations that some of its funding had been diverted to back anti-Muslim violence.
SEWA was cleared by the Charity Commission, but the commission admitted it had not investigated its alleged RSS links or its complicity in the killings after SEWA said the allegations were untrue. Mr Kallidai is vice-chair and company secretary of Hindu Aid, and every other member of the management board, except one, is also a post-holder in the Hindu Forum of Britain. The two organisations share an office.
Mr Kallidai, the HFB and Hindu Aid refused yesterday to respond to questions about their links with extremism.
They were also unable to provide examples of their allegations about the “forced conversion” of Hindu girls.
One expert said: “You might wonder how a man like Kallidai could become an official ‘integration commissioner’ or how his organisation could achieve the legitimacy within government that it has. What ministers are doing is making the same mistake
as they made with the Muslim Council of Britain they are taking those who shout loudest as representatives of their faith.”
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Filed in: Hindu,Media,Organisations