Tuesday, August 17, 1999

Congress(I) demands CBI probe into VHP funds

By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, AUG. 16 The Congress (I) today alleged that the VHP was guilty of misuse of funds it received in the name of "charity" and had demanded an inquiry by the CBI to determine if the organisation was using these funds to create an anti- minority atmosphere in the country.

Releasing a copy of the VHP's audited accounts for the financial year 1997-1998, the AICC(I) spokesperson, Mr. Kapil Sibal, said while the VHP received Rs.2.70 crores, only Rs. 10,101 was spent on 'charitable' purposes of 'help to poor'. Mr. Sibal's contention was that the rest of the funds "were utilised for religious propaganda or for purposes the nature of which is not evident from the income and expenditure statement."

More interestingly, Mr. Sibal said that the VHP had floated a number of outfits, by different names like the Bhartiya Jansewa Sansthan, Bharat Kalyan Pratishthan, Hindu Dhaam, Vishwa Hindu Foundation, Shree Gujarat Vanvaasi Kalyan Parishad, Hindu Heritage Foundation, Gowardhan Niryaat Sanvardhan Parishad, and Shri Ram Janambhoomi Nyas. According to Mr. Sibal, except one, all these outfits operated from one address "with the same set of people controlling their funds dispensations."

The central issue, according to Mr. Sibal, was whether these organisations could be separately granted status as charitable organisations, thereby being qualified to receive tax exemptions donations from India and abroad "while its central control remains firmly in the hands of the same coterie that controls the VHP."

In particular, the Congress(I) found it objectionable that the VHP funds should also be going to the Bajrang Dal, and that these funds should be spent "on compilation of pre- fabricated structures allegedly for Ram Mandir at Ayodhya."

Therefore, the Congress wants a CBI investigation which would determine whether the donations were put to use other than for which these were received. Also, an investigation should be able to find out whether these organisations fulfilled the conditions spelled out in Section 11 and 12 of the Income Tax Act. In addition, it needed to be determined "what is the extent of foreign funding received by them through banking and other channels from foreign countries in previous weeks, months and years?" And, "how many branches in foreign countries each of these organisations have on a permanent basis together with their foreign addresses?"

The Congress contention was that the VHP, the central fulcrum of the Hindutva movement, had been receiving funds which were not properly audited or accounted for. The AICC(I) went a step further and demanded a probe aimed at finding out how the VHP funneled funds to outfits in Orissa, Gujarat, Karnataka and Kerala, which had witnessed periodic campaigns against the minorities.

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