MHA eye on NGOs funding terrorists | delhi | Hindustan Times
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MHA eye on NGOs funding terrorists

Move is part of the first set of changes to the anti-terror law. Aloke Tikku reports.

delhi Updated: Dec 08, 2011 01:35 IST
Aloke Tikku

In a move to squeeze the purse strings of terror groups, the home ministry has decided to treat threats to the country’s economic security as a terrorist act and prosecute non-governmental organisations that divert funds to help terrorists and naxalites under the anti-terror law.

The move – that also counts dealing in counterfeit currency as a terror act - is part of the first set of changes to the anti-terror law – Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) – that was last amended after the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack by home minister P Chidambaram.

In its new form, the government has also decided to raise the duration of the ban on terrorist groups from 2 years to 5 years. The Communist Party of India (Maoists), Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Indian Mujahideen are among the 35 groups banned under this provision.

Changes

Ban on terror & insurgent groups for 5 years, not just 2

Action that threatens economic security will be terrorist act

Non-governmental organisation office-bearers to be prosecuted in case of diversion of funds to terror groups

Handling counterfeit currency is terror act

The focus of the latest round of changes in the law is to plug loopholes to curb terror financing and money laundering, a senior government official told HT.

The review was prompted by concerns raised by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an inter-governmental body for setting standards on anti-money laundering and financing of terrorism.

“The FATF had pointed out some deficiencies with regard to the legal framework. These issues are being addressed in the amendments,” a senior home ministry official said.

Accordingly, the amendments propose to explicitly authorise seizure of proceeds of terrorist activities belonging to an individual terrorist, expand the scope of a terrorist act to cover counterfeit currency and enhance penalties for offences.

A key change in the proposed amendments is an attempt to prosecute office-bearers of non-governmental organisations including trusts and societies under this law if their organisations are found to have diverted funds to terror activities.

India has an estimated 2 million NGOs.

Only 71,000 of them file income tax returns in 2006-07 and 38,000 are registered with the home ministry for receiving foreign funds.

An FATA evaluation had taken a dim view of the government machinery’s ignorance about the activities of the NGO sector. It had also noted there had been no effective outreach to this sector in relation to risks and vulnerabilities to terrorist financing abuse.