Canada’s National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) and the World Sikh Organisation (WSO) recently released a fallacious report entitled “Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Network in Canada”. The report has been widely criticised for its institutional bias against Hindus, India, and the RSS, as well as its malicious agenda, misinformation, rhetoric, and opinion-based claims.
The report erroneously claims that the RSS’s Seva (humanitarian aid and relief) is used to preach and spread its ideology and ideas throughout society, particularly in tribal and underdeveloped parts of India.
The fact of the matter is that the RSS has been involved in various humanitarian aid and relief efforts across India, particularly during times of need like floods, earthquakes and most recently, COVID-19 pandemic.
These efforts have included providing food, shelter, medical aid, and education to those in need, as well as supporting the society. It is also important to recognise that the organisation genuinely believes in the importance of Seva as a means of serving the community and promoting social welfare.
The key issue, therefore, is not Seva or service to the community and the motherland, but rather how selfless service by RSS volunteers is being labelled by highly and suspiciously organised organisations like NCCM and WSO.
Even the critics of RSS have accepted and appreciated the fact that RSS volunteers does service activities and provide relief to the needy without any discrimination.
There are volunteers from various religious background join RSS and Sangh has never imposed any religious practice on them. Common culture and reverence to the motherland are only factors on the basis of which RSS undertakes it’s training and voluntary activities.
The report indicates that the presence and expansion of the RSS and its affiliated groups in Canada, as in other regions, have contributed to Islamophobia, anti-Sikh sentiments, and caste-based issues. Nevertheless, this assertion is unfounded and lacks substantiated evidence.
In reality, the majority of these allegations come from organisations and entities that are ostensibly community-run but are, in fact, revealed to have hidden motives and agendas. For example, the recent amendment by Seattle city council in their discrimination laws to include “caste” was lobbied by dubious organisations like Equality Labs et al, groups such as NCCM and WSO, who make these accusations, are actually the leading proponents of divisive disinformation aimed at influencing public opinion.
Furthermore, it should be noted that both NCCM and WSO have an unsavory aspect, as previously noted, which raises serious questions regarding the credibility of reports generated by them.
In many instances, organisations that propagate hate against Hindus or and their members that embolden Hinduphobia and Hindumisia have known connections to extremist groups, and even more alarming, terrorist organisations. Many such organisations pose a serious threat to their countries own internal and external security with links and agendas transcending national borders.
Here, it also becomes important to look at the background of both Canada’s NCCM and the WSO.
Canada’s National Council of Canadian Muslims
In recent years, the Muslim population in Canada has grown exponentially. As of the 2001 census, there were 5,79,640 Muslims in Canada, or less than 2 per cent of the total population.
In 2021, the Muslim population of Canada was estimated to be 1.8 million, or 4.9 per cent of the total population. Since 2001, this sharp increase in population has spawned a 1 plethora of human rights and advocacy organisations focused on Islam and Muslim interests. One such organisation is the NCCM.
Promoting a radical Islamic agenda
NCCM has been accused of promoting a radical Islamic agenda and of seeking to impose Islamic law in Canada. These accusations are often based on the NCCM’s public statements or its affiliations with other organisations that advocate for Islamic law.
Ties to terrorist organisations
Previously NCCM and some of its members have been accused of links with the terror group “Hamas” by former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his spokesman. Following a legal battle that ensued, Harper had to take back his allegations and the Canadian government also distanced itself from the claim. Nonetheless, the workings of NCCM continue to come under public scrutiny. Moreover, the NCCM was rebranded in 2013.
World Sikh Organisation of Canada
According to the 2021 Canadian census, there are over 950,000 Canadians of Punjabi origin, or about 2.6 per cent of the country’s total population; Sikhs account for approximately 2.1 per cent, or 800,000 of this number.
The World Sikh Organisation of Canada (WSO) is a non- 11 profit organisation that was founded in 1984 in response to the anti-Sikh violence that occurred in Delhi following the assassination of Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards.
The organisation’s founding objective was “to provide an effective, 12 credible voice to represent Sikh interests on the world stage.” However, since its inception, 13 WSO is widely criticised for its alleged ties to Khalistani terrorists and its support for the creation of a fictitious independent Sikh state in India.
The vast majority of Sikhs across the globe, especially in India, have distanced themselves from the organisation as a result of its extremist activities and ideological support for Khalistani terrorism.
On July 28, 1984, at the founding convention of the WSO at Madison Square Garden in New York, US, Ajaib Singh Bagri, a Khalistani terrorist associated with the proscribed terrorist organisation Babbar Khalsa International (BKI), publicly called for retribution against India and Hindus. He repeated several times in his speech, “Until we kill 50,000 Hindus, we will not rest.
In a 2007 CBC documentary, Terry Milewski reported that a small segment of Canada’s Sikh community was gaining political power while publicly supporting terrorist actions in their fight for a so called “independent Sikh state”.
The World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO), a human rights group that opposes violence and extremism, responded by suing the CBC for defamation, slander, and libel, claiming that Milewski’s report linked them to terrorism and hurt their reputation within the Sikh community. However, in 2015, the WSO withdrew all claims made in the lawsuit without any conditions.
Having said this, the report in question makes sweeping claims without providing sufficient evidence to support its arguments. Instead, it relies heavily on rhetorical language and a few media op-eds as its main sources of citations.
The report’s claims that the RSS perpetuates Islamophobia, caste issues, and anti-Sikh sentiments in local jurisdictions lack credible evidence. Baseless accusations posed in the report cause harm to individuals and organisations and contribute to the spread of misinformation.
The report in question comes across as a hasty and poorly researched attempt to spread misinformation about Hindus, India, and the RSS. The lack of credible evidence and the reliance on biased sources suggest agenda driven motivations.