NGOs working in the North-Eastern states have expressed concern about recent comments by a section of officials in the centre and various states alleging links between civil society groups and Maoists.
About 60 NGOs from the North East states, who concluded a two-day long deliberation in Guwahati on Wednesday, said such "blanket designation" would harm social activities undertaken by them.
"Now that most of the separatist groups in the North East have come overground to hold talks, the government has found a new bogey and that is to see a collusion between NGOs and Maoists in all incidents, whether it is anti-dam agitations or protests against extra-judicial killings," Ravindra Nath, Director of Assam-based NGO Rural Volunteer Centre said.
The NGOs said they would do their "utmost" to put their "own houses in order" and expected the government to desist from making such allegations.
Participants at the two-day event also criticised the Assam government for alleging that NGOs working in the state are funded by Maoists.
"The government has to understand that support to locals against dams or against nuclear power plants, as in Tamil Nadu, do not mean we are against development. What we urge is that the government evaluate all pros and cons while undertaking such projects," Supreme Court Commissioner on Food Security Sunil Kaul said.
Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) senior fellow K K Subramanian said there is a need to link national security with the security of individuals.
"In states like Manipur, security forces are engaged in extrajudicial killings. In such cases, it is the NGOs and civil society groups who take up the cases of victims. But that does not mean that NGOs are fighting the government," he said.
According to the participants, both the government and the civil society groups should work together for narrowing down their differences.