Diplomats in at least nine countries speak at Hindu paramilitary group’s events Following news that the Consul General of India’s Toronto consulate recently keynoted a Hindu nationalist event, evidence is emerging that over a dozen Indian diplomats in nine countries have participated in similar events over the past few years.
Consul General Dinesh Bhatia sparked outrage in some sections for sharing the stage with garlanded pictures of K.B. Hedgewar and M.S. Golwalkar, the first leaders of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). Known as Sarsanghchalaks (Supreme Leaders), Hedgewar and Golwalkar wanted India to be a Hindu nation and formed the RSS into a paramilitary to propagate Hindu nationalism. However, an investigation by Organization for Minorities of India (OFMI) reveals that a number of other consular officials have also recently participated in their official capacity in similar Hindu nationalist events.
“From North America to Europe and Asia to South America, Indian ambassadors and consuls have appeared as honored guests, keynote speakers, and even co-hosts of events organized by the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh — the international wing of the RSS — as well as events organized by the RSS’s religious wing, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, and occasionally even by the international wing of the Bharatiya Janata Party,” reports OFMI spokesperson Arvin Valmuci. “We have compiled evidence that 15 Indian diplomats in nine countries have spoken at 24 different Sangh Parivar events since 2013, most in just the last two years. On at least two occasions, a diplomat joined a top RSS executive at an event — on another two occasions, a diplomat joined a top executive of the VHP. Our data is not comprehensive and we are certain that Indian diplomats are collaborating with the RSS on a far larger scale than even what we’ve uncovered so far.”
Most recently, on November 4, 2018, High Commissioner Venkatachalam Mahalingam of India’s Guyana commission spoke at an event organized by the HSS in Georgetown. He shared the stage with HSS Sanghchalak (President) Ravi Dev.
On October 27, 2018, Consul General Swati Kulkarni of India’s Atlanta consulate was the chief guest at an HSS-organized event commemorating Hedgewar’s founding of the RSS. She shared the stage with keynote speaker HSS International Coordinator Saumitra Gokhale. According to a biographical sketch of Gokhale, “He worked as a Pracharak (full-time worker) of RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) for 4+ years in India. Since 1999 onwards, he has been working as a Pracharak of HSS (Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh) in Caribbean countries, Canada, and the United States of America. Based currently in the USA, he is the global coordinator for HSS activities.”