The curious case of ‘Help India Breathe’: An Islamic organisation, with ties to Hizbul Mujahideen
India has been grappling with the worst health crisis as the second wave of COVID-19 spreads frantically. The sudden spike in cases has brought the nation’s healthcare system to its knees. There is an extreme shortage of hospital beds, oxygen and medicines. In these trying times, many brands and organisations have stepped forward to help India.
While there are many organisations that are genuinely pitching in to help in the time of need, there are many fraudulent organisations that have also mushroomed up. Such organisations are craftily prying upon ordinary people and scamming them in the name of Covid relief work. One such NGO in question is an America-based NGO Islamic Medical Association of North America (IMANA) Care.
IMANA gained immense popularity in India overnight a few days ago. The organisation is said to be targeting the youth of the country by running paid advertisements on Instagram and even coughing up money to paid influencers and promoters on the platform to share its posts and stories. The Indian youth, in turn, have been donating mindlessly to the NGO’s fundraiser campaign ‘Help India Breathe’ making it an overnight success.
Interestingly, IMANA is an ‘NGO’ that is devoted to the betterment of Muslim society alone. The organisation clearly mentions in its bio that “it is a leading resource and network for American-Muslim healthcare professionals in North America”. It specifies that its aim is to best serve its Muslim patients.
This American NGO recently initiated a fundraising campaign called ‘Help India Breathe’ to supposedly help uplift India from the recent COVID crisis. Within a short span of time, IMANA has managed to collect funds worth crores.
On the face of it, the intentions of this American NGO seemed extremely righteous. However, within no time, social media users started questioning the genuineness of this NGO and its fundraising campaign.
As it turns out, there is more than one reason to believe that the NGO and its fundraising campaign is nothing but a sham.
The NGO and its changing donation goals
Firstly, IMANA Cares has been caught changing its targets on the Instagram fundraiser, not once but thrice. According to the information provided by a social media user, the NGO, initially, aimed for Rs 1.8 crore as the total amount to be collected, which on the same day was increased to Rs 3 crore and later to Rs 5.6 crore by the organisation.
Interestingly, every time the set goal was being achieved, the organisation quietly increased its target. This in itself is quite dubious because, generally, all fundraising campaigns have specific deadlines and ends after their pre-set goal is achieved.
‘Help India Breathe’ and its links with Hizbul Mujahideen
Secondly, IMANA on its official website, mentions that it has ties with another NGO named Islamic Society of Northern America (ISNA).
Interestingly, ISNA has been caught funding Islamist terror groups in Jammu and Kashmir.
According to a 2017 India Today report, the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA), which began auditing the NGO in 2011, revoked ISNA’s charity status over suspicion of funding Islamist terror groups in Jammu and Kashmir with alleged links to Hizbul Mujahideen.
In a letter to ISNA, the Canadian authorities had then written that they had uncovered links between ISNA Islamic Services and Jamaat-e-Islami, a Pakistani fundamentalist group also the parent organisation of the Hizbul Mujahideen.
According to the audit findings, the Canadian Revenue Agency had found that one Jami Mosque in Toronto was involved in collecting funds for which it issued ISNA Islamic Services tax receipts. These funds were then routed to the Relief Organization of Kashmiri Muslims (ROKM), through the ISNA Development Foundation.
ROKM, the CRA said, is the charitable arm of Jamaat-e-Islami which in turn is the parent organisation of the Hizbul Mujahideen.
“Our research indicates that ROKM is the charitable arm of Jamaat-e-Islami, a political organization that actively contests the legitimacy of India’s governance over the state of Jammu and Kashmir, including reportedly through the activities of its armed wing Hizbul Mujahideen,” the CRA had then said, adding that “Given the identified commonalities in directorship between ROKM and Jamaat-e-Islami and the Hizbul Mujahideen executive committee, concerns exist that the funds collected and disbursed as part of this relief fund may have been used to support the political efforts of Jamaat-e-Islami and/or its armed wing Hizbul Mujahideen”.
Considering these facts, there is a huge possibility that Indians have been duped by this Islamic NGO, whose primary aim is to serve only Muslims in the United States.