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Row after RSS-backed magazine accuses Amazon of religious conversion

Photo used for representational purpose only.

Photo used for representational purpose only.
| Photo Credit: K. Murali Kumar

Wading into the controversy that erupted over the recent cover story of Organiser, a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh- backed magazine, about alleged funding of conversion activities in the northeastern States by e-commerce giant Amazon, the Swadeshi Jagran Manch, another RSS offshoot, demanded that Central agencies should investigate the firm’s business model in India and its links with organisations that are a “threat to national security”.

Ashwani Mahajan, national co-convener of the Manch, said Amazon’s “conversion racket” was also rapidly growing in Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. 

The Manch has maintained that e-commerce platforms were hurting small businesses in the country.

“It’s been a long-pending demand of SJM that the government must look into the business model of these e-commerce giants. The feedback coming from various places suggests that Amazon is also indulging in business malpractices to propel conversion, which could be a threat to our national security,” Mr. Mahajan added, demanding that the Central agencies should investigate the rapid growth of the e-commerce giant in India.

Union Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal last year criticised e-commerce giants in Parliament, stressing that they were wielding influence to hurt domestic small businesses, traders and even consumers in the long run.

In the past, BJP’s Foreign Affairs Department in-charge Vijay Chauthaiwale too had slammed the editorial policies of the Washington Post owned by Jeff Bezos who is also the owner of Amazon. 

In one of his tweets, Mr. Chauthaiwale said there were ‘issues’ with the newspaper’s coverage of India where Mr Bezos claimed to be expanding rapidly by participating in the ‘Make In India’ programme.

In the story, titled the ‘Amazing Cross Connection’, the Organiser detailed about the crackdown on foreign Christian missionaries in the northeastern States. It added that the crackdown exposed the sinister designs, visa violations, and corporate nexus in changing the demography of the region.

“E-commerce Amazon is financing the Christian Conversion module run by American Baptist Mission (ABM). There is a possibility of a money laundering ring run by multinational companies and ABM to fund India’s huge missionary conversion mission,” the story said.

It added that the Social Justice Forum of Arunachal Pradesh had alleged that Amazon was “continuously funding the All India Mission (AIM), the frontal organisation of ABM, through its foundation Amazon Smile”.

“Amazon is sponsoring the conversion module of All India Mission by donating money against every purchase by an Indian,” the magazine alleged, adding that AIM had openly claimed on its website that it had converted 25,000 people to Christianity in northeast India,” the cover story alleged.

This is not the first time that the magazine has attacked Amazon. It claimed that based on its earlier report published in September, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) had taken cognisance of alleged irregularities committed by the AIM through its orphanages, which allegedly run on funds received from Amazon.

In a statement to The Hindu, Amazon said that Amazon India did not have any relationship with the All India Mission, its affiliates nor did the AmazonSmile programme operate on the Amazon India marketplace.

“Where the AmazonSmile programme does operate, customers can choose to donate to a charity they prefer from multiple non-profits that register themselves under the programme. The AmazonSmile program does not endorse the views of any charity participating in the programme,” it added.

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