This is a detailed and authentic account of the intimidation and harassment of the Indian NGO SEVALAYA by Yoga Vereinigung Rajagopalan e.V. (YVR), a German-based funding organization operated by “Yogi” Srinivasan Rajagopalan. – Editor
“The German group Yoga Vereinigung Rajagopalan is collecting money in Germany using the name of Indian NGOs. They are misusing the money collected for welfare purposes to dole out funds to their henchmen in India for criminal activities. How do they transfer money to this country? How do they account for the expenses? Is it permissible for them while visiting India, to engage in criminal activities and give interviews to the Press and TV making false allegations against a well run Indian NGO? What is the safeguard to an Indian NGO against such harassment by repeating the same false complaints again and again? What about the waste of precious time and energy of the NGO and the government agencies who have to deal with the same complaints again and again? These questions are haunting us for about five years.” – V. Muralidharan
Sevalaya is a registered charitable trust functioning from Kasuva Village in Thiruvallur District for the past over 21 years. Sevalaya is rendering service to the orphan, poor, destitute children and senior citizens free of charges without any distinction on the basis of caste /creed /religion/ language/ gender etc
Sevalaya’s main activities are a home for the orphan, poor, and destitute children, and a free recognized, unaided Higher Secondary School educating nearly 1050 children from the poor, backward, and socially depressed sections. The organization has consistently achieved 100% results in almot all years in X and XII board examinations. Sevalaya has also won an All India Award by TCS – Educational World Awards Committee – 2006 for innovative and value based education, out of 25000 schools.
Yoga Vereinigung Rajagopalan e.V. (YVR), is a Germany based agency collecting donations from their country and canalizing to different charitable organizations in India [YVR has no website or original Internet presence: see Teloos.de – Editor]. They were giving project based annual contributions to Sevalaya from 1998 to 2004. All accounts were submitted then and there and approved by them. The agency also visited Sevalaya from time to time, took photographs of the projects. On 17/10/2005, a 14 page document containing comprehensive project wise details of all the projects from 1998 to 2004 in the format required and approved by them was sent by Sevalaya and approved by Rajagopalan’s group.
YVR attempted to have a controlling interest in our organization by insisting that our programmes and activities should conform to their (YVR’s) constitution. They started objecting to our starting a home for poor and destitute old people, cow protection centre for non milk yielding old cows, and our ambitious goal of a free rural university for the poor. We went ahead with our plans unheeding of their protests as we are not bound to the constitution of our donors. YVR have their own way of meddling with the policies and practices of their donee organizations. for example Vidya Sagar and Bala Mandir.
The final break with YVR came when their newly appointed Indian representative, Vasudevan Varma alias Rajesh, nephew of the YVR chief functionary, Rajagopalan, proved a menace and embarrassment to Sevalaya in the presence of staff, residents, and donors by his unruly behavior in an inebriated condition. When his behaviour reached an intolerable limit, Sevalaya informed Rajagopalan, and his assistant Jan Uwe Burmeister that they would no longer deal with Rajesh alias Vasudevan Varma.
From then on harassment by Jan Uwe Burmeister at the instance of Rajagopalan, started in the form of long abusive, sarcastic letters, ridiculing Sevalaya’s objectives and dreams, late night phone calls to the managing trustee, calling for statement of accounts for the period and monies for which they have not at all contributed and demanding that as “beggars” Sevalaya is bound to submit to them any information required. They also demanded an apology for throwing out and hurting the dignity of Vasudevan Varma. In the same mail, they had also given a veiled threat, that if we fail to apologize time will decide about that.
In the face of such humiliation and harassment, Sevalaya refused to entertain any correspondence with them.
Much earlier to the mail where they had termed Sevalaya as “beggars” , during the course of the e mail correspondence, we had thanked them for all their help and indicated that we will not accept any further contributions from them.
The next step taken by Yoga Vereinigung Rajagopalan e.V was to send complaints against Sevalaya to various government agencies on 3 counts namely: irregularity in accounts, Ill treatment of children, and caste bias. Sevalaya was subjected to gruelling inspection of accounts, investigation including confidential inquiries with the staff and children regarding their castes as also the treatment meted out to children, and individual medical examination of all the children by a medical officer. The other officials who conducted the investigations included the Chief Educational Officer and the District Social Welfare Officer. These investigations were conducted at the instance of the District Collector, Thiruvallur, from 14/12/2006 to 20/3/2007. Sevalaya came out very clean after all these investigations. Sevalaya was able to produce all the accounts required; children were treated very well; and almost all the beneficiaries are from Dalit and most backward sections.
Having failed in these efforts, the German group contacted Sevalaya’s donors and well wishers like TCS management, Give India, and Wellington Corporate Foundation Chennai to besmirch Sevalaya’s image telling false and fabricated stories. None of these donors have bought their stories.
Then in desperation Rajagopalan started telephoning Ram Mohan, former Safety Commissioner of Indian Railways, a Gandhian and a well wisher of Sevalaya, conveying the message that they would finish off Muralidharan and that they have money power to do that and that they knew the Indian administrative set up very well. Ram Mohan refused to entertain any further phone calls.
Rajagopalan and his assistant Jan Uwe Burmeister now became very desperate. They have through Vasudevan Varma collected a few staff members dismissed from Sevalaya for indiscipline and moral lapses, and allured one staff member with monetary reward. They tried their best to create disaffection amongst staff members. This also proved fruitless. Then they started the criminal activities.
On 28/06/07, around 4:50 PM, 4 people led by one Va. Ra. Krishnakumar calling themselves as press people from “Indian Reporter’ visited Sevalaya campus, spoke to the staff in abusive language, took photographs of lady staff members and children without permission and assaulted Kingston, Sevalaya’s AHM. They also grabbed the hands of lady staff members and snatched Sevalaya’s camera from them. Sevalaya lodged a police complaint against “Indian Reporter”.
On 1/07/07, Rajagopalan made a phone call to Annamalai, one of Sevalaya’s committee members, and admitted that he sent these press reporters.
On 3/7/07, posters appeared in villages surrounding Sevalaya, Thiruvallur, and in front of some TCS offices, stating that Sevalaya’s managing trustee has misbehaved with the girls in the Sevalaya campus and also taken away Sevalaya’s money. These posters have appeared in the name of “Indian Makkal Manram”, led by Va. Ra. Krishnakumar. Within half an hour, all the various branches of police department landed in Sevalaya to conduct enquiry, including special branch CID, crime branch CID, intelligence wing of Thiruvallur police, intelligence wing of home ministry, assistant commissioner of police Tiruninravur, to name a few. The managing trustee was asked to go over to the assistant commissioner’s office and face enquiry. He went immediately and answered all questions and showed all required documents. All the police departments were very happy with the functioning of Sevalaya and in fact the then superintendent of police, Thiruvallur invited all the children to his office and presented new clothes and arranged lunch.
Sevalaya has lodged police complaints against “Indian reporter” and “Indian Makkal Manram” and also lodged a suit for criminal damages against the office bearers of Yoga Vereinigung Rajagopalan e.V., and Va. Ra. Krishnakumar.
On 05/07/2007, the then Chief Educational Officer of Thiruvallur District conducted an inspection at Sevalaya on the basis of 9 complaints listed by Va. Ra.Krishnakumar. She asked for an explanation of the complaints. Sevalaya provided a written explanation with which she was satisfied and wrote to Sevalaya to continue the good services.
Thus it will be seen that the said Rajagopalan and Jan Uwe Burmeister not meeting with success in their various nefarious attempts with the help of their local representative and certain disgruntled and dismissed staff of Sevalaya, have in their fury against Sevalaya embarked upon a still more heinous crime by setting up a local electronic media – Sun T.V – in the prime time news slot at 8.00 PM on Friday,21.12.2007 to telecast a totally false and fabricated report about the institution using technological gimmicks. Similar report has caused to be published in the eveninger “Tamil Murasu” dated 27.12.2007 and “Tamil Chudar” dated 28.12.2007 (which published an identically worded report) against both of which Sevalaya is proceeding legally. It has also come to our notice that Jan Uwe Burmeister, the German, who is now in Chennai as a tourist, is personally engaged in the criminal defamation against the well run Sevalaya organization. A one sided report about this issue was telecast by NDTV on 7/1/2008 which carried an interview by Burmeister making false allegations which included alleged sexual assault on a girl, against the institution.
We have evidence to show that agents of Rajagopalan (our ex-German donor) have offered a huge amount to the family of an ex-student of Sevalaya, Durga Devi, to induce her to make a false allegation that she was sexually harassed by a teacher of Sevalaya. The girl’s family is very poor and she has a heart problem. Taking advantage of the poverty and the health condition of a village girl, Rajagopalan and Jan have enticed her parents with money and made her falsely allege sexual harassment in electronic media and press which is very detrimental to the psyche of the child and violates her rights. This action also violates the rights of the teacher on whom such false charges are made endangering his social standing and relationships among family & friends.
Jan and Rajagopalan have tried to set up people to give false complaint against Sevalaya and Muralidharan with a view to arresting him. This offer was made to one T.R.Sarathy, office bearer of an NGO working in the locality of Sevalaya, with an offer to finance him for the NGO’s projects. They have also hatched a conspiracy to murder V. Muralidharan by offering a sum of Rs.5 lakhs to one T. Nagaraj, ex-staff, if he would murder Muralidharan. Two statements by T.R. Sarathy to the above effect are filed in the court. Also a letter from one of our former students who was approached to give false complaint against Sevalaya is also filed in the court.
The German group is collecting money in Germany using the name of Indian NGOs. They are misusing the money collected for welfare purposes to dole out funds to their henchmen in India for criminal activities. How do they transfer money to this country? How do they account for the expenses? Is it permissible for them while visiting India, to engage in criminal activities and give interviews to the Press and TV making false allegations against a well run Indian NGO? What is the safeguard to an Indian NGO against such harassment by repeating the same false complaints again and again? What about the waste of precious time and energy of the NGO and the government agencies who have to deal with the same complaints again and again? These questions are haunting us for about five years.
We have taken up the matter with the Superintendent of Police, Thiruvallur; Director General of Police, Chennai; Home Secretary, Tamilnadu Government; Director of Social Defense, Tamilnadu Government; Ambassador, Indian Embassy, Germany; and Foreign Secretary, Government of India. As a follow up on our complaint to the Home Secretary, we were invited to CB CID, Anna Nagar, and we have handed over a complaint to DSP on 9/10/2008.
We have filed a criminal complaint (2489/2008) in the 17th Metropolitan Court, Saidapet, Chennai, Where we have cited S. Rajagopalan, Jan Uwe Burmeister, Va. Ra. Krishnakumar and three dailies under Sec. 292-A, 499 and 500 for criminal intimidation and defamation. The complaint relates to the allegation made by K. Durga Devi in the Press and TV engineered by the German group and others. Three summonses were issued to the two members of the German group. As they did not respond, a non bailable warrant was issued to the two accused. They have obtained recall of the warrant, disclaiming their own local address as a “false address” and falsely submitting that they are not in any way connected with the complaints. There is recorded evidence of the complaint made by Jan Uwe Burmeister to the Collector, Thiruvallur, and various authorities. The New Indian Express also quoted them as the source. In NDTV. Jan Uwe Burmeister appeared and testified against Sevalaya in the instant case. As the recall was obtained without notice to us, we could not challenge the matter.
In addition to the above, these two German nationals have applied for quashing of the complaint pending in the Saidapet Court and on that ground obtained an interim stay on 21st July 2008 at the court of Justice K..Mohan Ram.This was also done without any notice to us.
Even as the quash petition is pending in the High Court, they have aggravated the offences by hurling more serious charges like “Sevalaya is a sex den and is selling girls to rowdies to be engaged in sex industry”. They have kidnapped a girl and went to the extent of suggesting that she had been murdered by Sevalaya.
The German group is avoiding facing the court for over two years now, when they could have utilized this opportunity to prove the various serious allegations they have hurled against Sevalaya in the media, to various government authorities and through posters, etc. Adding fuel to the fire, even as the case is pending, they are defiantly hurling more serious charges against Sevalaya, betraying their total lack of respect for the Indian judicial system.
They have also attempted harassment by a different route, of false complaints being made by the girl’s parents at Thiruvallur court and State Human Rights Commission. It is significant that the interim stay was obtained by them in July 2008 and in the same month they have arranged for a case being filed by the parent of the girl at Thiruvallur Court. The same advocate who is representing the YVR German group in the High Court (M. Sreedhar) is engaged by the girl’s parent at Thiruvallur. The significance is too obvious to be missed.
The complaint filed on behalf of the parent by advocate M.Sreedhar alleged that two teachers, on various occasions molested the girl and even attempted to rape her. He also adds that the headmaster also molested the girl when she went to complain to him; the managing trustee Muralidharan, in his turn disrobed her and molested her saying that all the girls in the school are adjusting. Two lady teachers were said to be accomplices and are reported to have hit the girl.
In the direction petition seeking intervention of High Court to transfer the case to CB CID the advocate had reiterated the same complaints. However during CB CID investigation the girl and the parent rejected the complaint and FIR filed on that basis, stating that the advocate gave them a different version of what he was going to write in the complaint. The advocate also did not explain to them clearly the content of the complaint. They had signed it without understanding what was written in it as the complaint was in Engish.
Now the case is against one teacher only and pending in the JM court, Thiruvallur, and hence is sub judice. Pending the court verdict, the teacher has been kept under suspension.
We request you to kindly take note of the criminal activities indulged in by these foreign nationals visiting India on a tourist visa, harassing an established and well run NGO to the detriment of community welfare activities going on in this country.
For videos 3 and 4 go to YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XY-_9eLMZVk&feature=related
Filed under: caste, class, ethics, globalization, india, media, NGOs, psychological warfare Tagged: | NGOs, s rajagopalan, sevalaya, sevalaya murali, v. muralidharan, yoga vereinigung rajagopalan, yvr