On March 1 in Toronto the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) and World Sikh Organization (WSO) launch a report—The RSS Network in Canada—that looks at the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) with a biased view. As per the report, the presence of RSS and their work poses a challenge to tolerance, pluralism, and liberal democracy in Canada.
Notably, the Hindu Swayam Sewak Sangh (HSS) condemned the report and said all the allegations made on the report show the biased nature of the NCCM and WSO.
In a press note dated March 8, HSS said, “Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, USA (HSS) strongly condemns the recent spate of attacks on Hindu organizations through disinformation, innuendos, and outright lies. Most of these attacks seem to be coming from radical minority organizations, who nurture hate and contempt against Hinduism, and the peaceful Hindu community residing in Western countries.”
The note further says, “HSS USA is an independent, American 501(c)(3) organization that only works in the USA and aims to practice, preserve, protect, and promote Hindu dharma and its values. HSS runs its activities in peaceful and family-friendly settings, engages constructively with all communities, and runs programs and community service projects to benefit all without discrimination.”
What did the report say about RSS?
As per the report, “The RSS is one of the most powerful non-governmental groups in the world, founded in 1925 with the expressed goal of reshaping India into a country run by and for its Hindu majority. This far-right ideology of “Hindu nationalism,” otherwise called Hindutva, has the primary purpose of establishing a Hindu Rashtra, or a Hindu State. This is an intolerant ideology that relegates India’s diverse array of minorities, from Muslims to Dalits to Christians to Sikhs to Jains, to inferior status. The RSS’s early ideologues were inspired by Hitler and Nazi ideology.”
It further says that “RSS groups have helped carry out mass violence in India, including the 2002 Gujarat massacre that killed thousands of Muslims. But its victims are not limited to India’s Muslims or a few minority groups. The RSS vision for India would push all of India’s minorities into inferior status. This includes the Sikh community, hailing primarily from the state of Punjab, which formed a big part of the Farmers’ Protests we saw in recent years. The Sikh community also has well-established diasporas, the largest of which is in Canada.”
“Even Dalit groups do not escape the RSS’s discrimination. The Dalit community (pejoratively called “untouchables”) face systemic discrimination by RSS-related groups, such as the inability to move up in rank within various institutions in India. “, says the report.
NCCM spokesperson, Steven Zhou says, “The report looks at the RSS network’s humanitarian charities in Canada, its presence in Canada’s schools, and its political advocacy. It also includes a list of incidents where Islamophobic, anti-Sikh, and other discriminatory rhetoric has been connected with those who purport to represent the Hindu or Indo-Canadian community.”
The report also targets Prime Minister Narendra Modi stating, “As our elected officials land in India for the G20 Summit and contemplate further ties with India through the Indo-Pacific Strategy, Canadians deserve to understand the dangerous exclusionary and discriminatory ideas that the RSS stands for, and which its network, including the BJP, acts upon:, as said by WSO’s Jaskaran Sandhu.
The press note released by HSS on March 8 says, “HSS-US conducts regular values-based education programs based on Hindu Dharma for all age groups. HSS promotes discipline, self-confidence, teamwork, and the spirit of selfless service. The report falsely attributes ‘militarizing the minds of HSS attendees’ while entirely missing this fact. HSS-US strongly denounces such malicious portrayal and falsehood.”
“These malice-ridden campaigns against minority Hindu organizations target Hindus by promoting hostility towards them and their lifestyle and inflicting harm to their well-being. The attacks on Hindu temples and Hindu people in the West have roots in such a manufactured environment of hate. These attacks are intended to provoke anti-Hindu sentiments in the USA and other Western countries”, says the report.
Furthermore, it should be noted that both NCCM and WSO have an unsavoury 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.
The National Council of Canadian Muslims
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.
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 ensue, 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.
The World Sikh Organisation
The World Sikh Organisation of Canada (WSO) is a non-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, credible voice to represent Sikh interests on the world stage.” However, since its inception, 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.
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 their main source.
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.
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.