UK Charity Commission to Probe Temple Council for Inviting Hindu Hardliner
United Kingdom’s Charity Commission has opened a compliance case against the National Council of Hindu Temples, UK, (NCHTUK) for inviting controversial religious activist Tapan Ghosh to speak at an event on “Love Jihad” in the House of Commons last month.
Senior Conservative party members who were present at the event where Ghosh was invited have now distanced themselves from it. Ghosh has been held in preventive custody five times in India for fear of spread of religious disharmony.
The event was hosted by Conservative Party MP Bob Blackman, the chairman of All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for British Hindus, who denied that any “abhorrent” remarks were made on the occasion. He added: “One of the most worrying trends in recent years has been grooming and forced conversions of Hindu minorities in the UK and countries like Bangladesh and Pakistan. In our commitment as a nation to fight extremism and radicalization it is important to hear the voices of suppressed minorities. As for the event in question, the choice of speakers and the views expressed are entirely the NCHT’s, who are the organizers.”
Ghosh attended a Diwali event with Indian-origin British MP Priti Patel, who is the Secretary of State of International Development, and Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary of the United Kingdom.
Rudd’s spokesperson said in a statement: “The home secretary fundamentally disagrees with Mr Ghosh’s views on Islam. The home secretary accepted an invitation from the Hindu Forum of Britain to attend an event in parliament last week to celebrate Diwali. She did not speak to Mr Ghosh and was not present when he spoke.”
Ghosh, the founder of Hindu Samhati in West Bengal, gave the keynote address at the event “Tolerating the intolerant: The abuse of Hindu human rights in Europe and India”.
Charity Status in Question
“The Commission has opened a case into the National Council of Hindu Temples (UK) to assess concerns raised regarding a speaker at an event linked to the charity,” the Charity Commission said in a statement on Nov. 3.
An open letter has also been crafted by the Association of British Muslims, the Asian Mums Network, and the Women Against Radicalisation Network demanding that the NCHTUK be removed from its charity status.
“We believe the NCHTUK should be stripped of its charity status for inciting religious hatred…[Ghosh] runs a hardline Hindu militant group whose sole purpose is to demonise and ’protect Hindus from Muslim aggression’,” the letter reads.
The event, according to the council of Hindu temples, focused on the “sustained targeting and abuse of Hindu and Sikh girls… their selection on the basis of their religion and their subsequent physical and emotional abuse for the purposes of forced conversion to Islam”. This is a concept popularly known as “Love Jihad” in India, which has led to intense debate and violence in some cases.
The general secretary of the NCHTUK, Satish Sharma, dismissed the accusations, saying, “[Ghosh] has been working in the particular space in Bengal for a long period of time. Controversy is something that an awful lot of people court and we couldn’t find somebody [else] who had his decades of grassroots experience. In terms of the media frenzy, we do not stand by any claims or any statement that have been attributed to him. We reject them without reservation.”
Ghosh also met former neo-Nazi leader Tommy Robinson during his visit to the United Kingdom.
Tapan Ghosh — A Controversial Figure
Ghosh was put in preventive custody five times during 2012 and 2014 to avoid communal tension. He was a member of Hindu nationalist groups Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) until 2007.
“The conquering attitude of Muslims has affected the rural Hindus in a huge way. These victims do not get any response from political parties, thanks to their ‘secular’ agenda. A rape is first checked for secularism, before being addressed as an issue. This is when the parents of the rape victim come to me as a last resort,” Ghosh said in an interview to a Hindu website in 2014.