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British Indian official linked to VHP


London : A key British Indian member of a government task force, which tackles extremist ideologies and religious segregation in Britain, has close associations with the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), a Hindu fundamentalist group, media reports said.

The Commission on Integration and Cohesion is to deliver its report on how Britain can foster inter-community harmony later this week, but one of its members, Ramesh Kallidai, has direct links to the VHP, the Evening Standard reported.

The VHP has been linked to the anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat in 2002, in which 2,000 Muslims died, it added.

Kallidai is secretary-general of the Hindu Forum of Britain, which claims to be the leading representative body for the country's 600,000 Hindus. However, his appointment to the commission has horrified many British Hindus.

He has even accused British Muslims of "aggressively" converting hundreds of British Hindu girls to Islam through intimidation and beatings. However, police have denied any such incident.

In April, Kallidai spoke at the British conference of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). He is said to have praised the organisation's "exemplary" ideology and its former leader, M.S. Golwalkar, who had written and spoken approvingly of Hitler's treatment of the Jews and said it was a model India could learn from, the newspaper said.

In 2004, Kallidai had defended the VHP in British Parliament, saying: "We would deny it is an association of Hindu extremists. It is a peaceful organisation."

"You might wonder how a man like Kallidai could become an official 'integration commissioner'. What ministers are doing is making the same mistake as they made with the Muslim Council of Britain – they are taking those who shout loudest as representatives of their faith," an expert on religious affairs told the paper.