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Sunday, June 26, 2022

ISKCON and other Hindu orgs serve people in war-torn Ukraine; Jakir Hassan of ‘The Logical Indian’ smears their efforts

Media trying to discredit ISKCON

Hindu Dharma and organizations associated with the same have always remained service-oriented towards people, society, environment and all sentient beings. However, neither the Hindus nor the Hindu organizations have a habit of tom-tomming this sewa (selfless service) for the wellbeing of mankind and earth.

The ongoing war in Ukraine has already displaced around 100,000 people and the number is increasingly quickly with each passing day. Hindu institutions like ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness), Sewa International and Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh have stepped in to provide service to Ukrainians and Bharatiya students affected by the war.

International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) has 54 centres in Ukraine. Though access to east Ukraine remains a challenge, the group is operating a prasadam distribution program in Donetsk. “In the past also, during the Chechnya war, our devotees served those in distress, especially old people who are stranded in their flats and no one is there to take care of them,” said the Vice-president of ISKCON, Kolkata, Radharaman Das. “The same spirit is there during these difficult times and the devotees are working out how best they can serve people stranded in war zones in Ukraine,” he added.

On the other hand, a devotee of Kyiv’s Hare Krishna temple Raju Gopal Das shared a video on the situation in the city. “The situation among the devotees is stable. Everyone is afraid and disturbed. We have prepared the temple for devotees,” he said.

Not only have all 54 centres of ISKCON in Ukraine opened their doors for the people, but ISKCON Hungary has also started to provide food and relief for Bharatiya students & refugees who are crossing over from Ukraine. The Bharatiya Embassy in Hungary has sought help from the ISKCON devotees to provide food and water for the Bharatiya students reaching Hungary to board flights back home.

Shri Radharaman Das also shared that Ukrainian devotee Vamshi Madhav Das was shot in the hand and chest but was unable to reach local hospitals due to the ongoing fighting. He requested everyone to offer prayers for him and his family.

Sewa International, a Hindu faith-based, humanitarian organization is involved in efforts to assist thousands of students to evacuate. On February 26, Sewa International transported 150 students from Vinnitsa to Chernovtsy by bus and provided them shelter, food, and transportation for their journey to the Romanian border.

Sewa International already has over 4,000 students registered in its helpline, with its volunteers making concerted efforts to help evacuate another 400. Sewa Europe, an independent partner organisation of Sewa International, and the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) are currently working in ten Ukrainian cities.

Sewa International has released USD 10,000 for the Ukrainian relief efforts and started a Facebook fundraising campaign to help people who are caught in this humanitarian crisis.

“The messages and videos we are getting from the war zone show the fear, anxiety, and danger people are facing as they run to safety. As the global Sewa network rises to face this challenge, I request people to support Sewa International in this rescue effort,” Arun Kankani, President, Sewa International, USA said.

‘The Logical Indian’ website tries to discredit ISKCON

Though the disciples of the Hare Krishna movement are doing their utmost to serve the people in Ukraine, Bharat’s ‘liberal’ (a catch-all term in Bharat for assorted Hinduphobes) websites are trying to discredit their selfless service.

Jakir Hassan, a writer for the ironically named The Logical Indian, posted an elaborate fact checking article describing how the images showing ISKCON members serving food to people in Ukraine are ‘fake’ as they are from an earlier occasion.

This is a standard tactic of such anti-Hindu websites like The Logical Indian, with the template having been created by ‘fact-checker’ propaganda site Alt News. Ignoring genuine information on a particular topic, they will hunt for anything that can be used to smear Hindus or plant doubt and cynicism. Some of the images being circulated for ISKCON’s social service may very well be from an earlier event in Ukraine, but the fact remains that ISKCON is indeed serving people in the war-torn country.

Hindu organizations have ignored the modern need to record and publicize sewa work. But the anti-Hindu propaganda is so strong and urban Hindus so deracinated and self-alienated, that this is an area that has to be addressed. Hindus have to learn to better propagate their beliefs, values and community/sewa work.

Though, at the tail end of his article, Jakir Hassan concedes that ISKCON is indeed providing services in Ukraine; it is not before creating a doubt in people’s minds through the title and the better part of the article, and tricking readers to think that ISKCON’s claims are bogus. As it is, these well-trained propagandists now that most people just scan through articles and don’t always read till the very end.

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