Houston, Texas- In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Small Business Administration (SBA) provided billions in loans through three programs designed to help small business owners stay afloat financially. According to data released by the (SBA) last year and an Al-Jazeera reporter, at least five organizations with ties to supremacist groups received more than $800,000 in federal covid relief programs. Community activists say the misappropriations of funds continues. Two more groups have received hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal funds from Ft. Bend County Commissioners Court.
The Eternal Gandhi Museum Houston
The Eternal Gandhi Museum Houston (EGMH), which is expected to open sometime in 2023, received $475,000 from Ft. Bend County Commissioners Court under the American Rescue Plan. Fort Bend County Commissioners’ Court Judge KP George announced the grant during a press conference held on December 21, 2021.
“The Eternal Gandhi Museum Houston is delighted and truly grateful to the Fort Bend County Commissioners’ court for approving this grant,” said Atul B. Kothari, one of Judge K.P. George’s campaign contributors and trustee of the museum. The Museum held its groundbreaking ceremony on July 3, 2021, with several elected public officials, including Judge KP George, Congressman Al Green, and Houston, TX Mayor Sylvester Turner. Thus far, the museum has received:
$3,000,000 from Congress under Al Green for Community Project Funding.
$475,000 from Ft. Bend County under the American Rescue Plan.
$500,000 from the Houston Endowment Foundation.
$100,000 from The Elkins Foundation.
While the EGMH Board of Trustees allegedly committed $1.1 million, tax statements on record with the IRS show that at least three of the museum’s trustees are listed as lenders for funding the museum’s construction. A fundraising campaign is still underway through foundations, corporations, and private donors to collect more funds.
Most, if not all of the individuals associated with the EGMH project are closely tied to right-wing extremist groups in India. The groups, which collectively exist under the name of the Sangh Parivar are known for using elected officials in the United States to promote their agenda. The parent organizations are linked to violence against minorities in India, including black foreign students from Africa, Christians, and other minority groups.
Sewa International- An extension of the Sangh Parivar
Sewa International, an international right-wing supremacy cult that recruits members worldwide received over $150,000 in COVID-19 relief from the SBA. Sewa received another $150,000 from Judge K.P. George of Ft. Bend County Commissioners Court in December 2021. Sewa has an extensive history of funding RSS-run projects across India. Ramesh Bhutada, an Indian American businessman from Texas, CEO of Star Pipe Products in Houston, Texas, and national vice-president of Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS), the U.S. wing of RSS, is also chairperson of the board of directors of Sewa International. Bhutada is well-known for his controversial statements about minorities.
Civil rights activist explains why Houstonians should be concerned
Elected officials handing out billions of dollars to right-wing organizations is a troubling example of how extremists have found ways to exploit the COVID-19 pandemic and systems designed to mitigate its effects. Houstonians and Ft. Bend County should be highly concerned that taxpayer-funded relief is being allocated to U.S. organizations directly tied to overseas groups engaging in hate crimes, massacres, and religious violence.
Judge K.P. George has misplaced the trust of the people to make good decisions that will serve in the best interest of the community. He took an oath to represent the people; and now he’s funding groups that commemorate hate crimes, discrimination, and segregation. This poor decision by Judge KP George takes desperately needed funding from struggling families and businesses to fund two right-wing organizations that have already received millions of dollars in federal funds. Meanwhile, our communities are experiencing life-altering hardships. Families are facing evictions, job loss, and struggling to put food on their tables. -Quanell X