Pro-Israel Indian NGO Feeds Poorest During Lockdown
Illustration: Woman Receiving Help (Image Courtesy SinghaBahini)
COVID-19 has struck the world, disproportionately impacting the poor. SinghaBahini, a Hindu nationalist organization founded by Devdutta Maji, has launched a major drive to help these families, serving over 1.2 million meals and providing supplies to more than 70,000 people. In the past, the organization has demonstrated its pro-Israel stance by co-organizing major pro-Israel rallies in Kolkatta (Calcutta) attended by 20,000 people in 2014, 100,000 people in 2018, and over 10,000 people in an independent 2019 rally.
The organization’s president, Maji, feels a deep connection to the people of Israel, having stated during an exclusive interview with The Jerusalem Herald in 2018, “Such is the fixation that antisemitism or hate against the Jewish state of Israel transcends every national boundary, race, religion and language. What is true for the Jews is also true for Hindus in West Bengal.” In the present crisis, he told The Jerusalem Herald, "We are all praying for Israel which is a hope to the world in terms of innovation and technology in these troubled times."
According to reports from SinghaBahini, the lock down has had a devastating effect on the marginalized Hindu population in West Bengal, especially for those who fall foul of the ruling party and its supporters. Many people are either not receiving their state-subsidized rations — including the free rations sent by the Centre government for three months to tide over the Coronavirus crisis — or getting less than their eligible quota. Many are forced to sleep hungry.
With nearly 15 years of social work experience, Maji said, “Initially we only thought of helping a few poor families. But we started receiving information about the sufferings of the poor people specially living in rural Bengal. So I started accelerating this campaign. Many donors from America and other parts of the world as well as from within Bharat (India) came out to help. We are grateful to all of them.” [Please see footnote to this article for information on how to help.]
Apart from providing food supplies, SinghaBahini has provided cooked meals to over 50 villages and towns in addition to the homeless and poor people of Kolkata. Help has been provided on a priority basis to the vanavasis, tribal peoples living in remote corners of Bengal, as well as the poorest of the Hindus, such as the family of Tapan Dey and his wife — both of whom are blind — and their four young daughters. The whole family lives in a single 75-square-foot room in Kolkata. Tapan Dey worked in the Sealdah railway station selling candies, but, due to the lock down, he is now unable to earn his living and depends on SinghaBahini for help.
The global Hindu community has also come forward to help fund SinghaBahini, with some non-resident Indians (NRI), especially from America, showing tremendous solidarity and support in this moment of extreme crisis.
SinghaBahini – a nationalist voice in West Bengal
The Hindu community of West Bengal is subject to a second threat. During times like these, Dawat-e-Islami, the Islamic missionary movement based in neighboring Pakistan, as well as Christian missionaries such as Mother Teresa’s Kolkata based Missionaries of Charity, challenge traditional Hindu beliefs and culture in the guise of aid. Some poor yet proud Hindus have refused to succumb to what they see as entrapment — these are the people SinghaBahini is helping.
Apart from relief work, SinghaBahini provides legal and other assistance to persecuted Hindus and tribal people of West Bengal and other neighboring states who are fighting an existential battle in their own homeland. The
organization is active in Ghar Wapsi (the movement to counteract conversion to Islam or Christianity) and rescuing the victims of Love Jihad (typically women lured to Islam through romantic efforts of Muslim proselytizers). Likewise, the organization rehabilitates victims of sexual grooming by Islamists.
SinghaBahini also raises its voice for friends like Israel, which faces many of the same challenges from hostile Islamic neighbors as Bharat does. Last year, braving extremely inclement weather and floods, it organized a major pro-Israel rally in West Bengal’s capital Kolkata — a city which has seen many rallies in support of Islamist causes.
Maji, who organized the rally, said, “Hindus for generations have been facing genocides. We have lost 400 million Hindus in the last 1400 years. This must end. Hindus need to get organized and see inspiration in the tiny beautiful nation of Israel — in how they stop terrorism on their own soil and support their own people.”
Maji appealed to all donors who would like to be part of this movement to help the most vulnerable Hindus struggling for survival during the COVID-19 lock down (see footnote). “Our Hindu civilization thrives because the most vulnerable in the community believe that come-what-may, they will be taken care of by the community.
“We cannot allow any community member to fall through the cracks. It’s our commitment and duty towards the community and nation. It’s fundamental to our dharma (the moral code of living),” he says.
To donate to SinghaBahini (outside of Bharat (India)):
Account Name: Devdutta Maji
Savings A/C No: 915010052714434
Bank Name: Axis Bank
IFSC code: UTIB0002785
Swift code: AXISINBB005