Narendra Modi govt cracks down on NGOs, prepares hitlist

  • Sanjib Kr Baruah and Rajesh Ahuja, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jan 24, 2015 02:37 IST

The Centre may act against some of the 188 NGOs red-flagged by the Intelligence Bureau for alleged misuse of foreign funds, suspected extremist links and proselytization.

These non-government organisations were reported by the internal spy agency and a list sent to the home ministry, documents accessed by HT have revealed.

The country’s top tax body the central board of direct taxes (CBDT) and enforcement directorate (ED), which tracks foreign funds and money laundering, have been alerted. But, it is not clear how many of the NGOs have been referred to and to which agency.

At a November 21, 2014 meeting, the government’s economic intelligence council expressed concern over misuse of funds received from abroad by some NGOs. Stringent action, including cancellation of registration, was called for, the documents revealed. The council also suggested "sharing of the relevant cases" by home ministry "with CBDT and ED for further action".

The NGOs have been reported by the IB for a range of activities -- violation of the foreign contribution regulation act (FCRA), links with Left-wing extremists (LWE), “conversion” of tribals to Christianity, and association with organisations such as Students Islamic Movement of India and Jamaat-e-Islami Hind.

The reports were compiled over seven years, beginning 2006.

Medecine Sans Frontieres, or Doctors Without Borders, was reported thrice by the IB -- in 2008, 2010 and 2013 -- for alleged links with “pro-LWE elements”.

“It is also using the satellite phones the use of which is currently not licensed by the government of India. The doctors of the MSF have often been noticed providing medical treatment to tribals in Naxalite infested areas,” says the report on the Nobel Peace prize winning voluntary body.

The French-founded NGO said it had not heard from the home ministry. “Until now we have received good cooperation from the authorities and MSF is carrying out its medical programs since many years as usual,” it told HT.

Amnesty International India Foundation faces similar charges. “Since 2006, it has occasionally aligned with the LWE associated organisation, PUCL. It has been critical of India’s human rights record since 1992, specifically criticiszing police/army action in J&K and North East,” the IB has said. An Amnesty spokesperson declined comment, saying the organisation had not been told of adverse reporting by the government.

Many NGOs have been reported for their alleged conversion activities. The IB report on Erode-based Trinity Charitable Trust says, “Its chief functionary…started the organization in the premises of the Assembly (church), which has 80 members of which 70 are converted. Its two trustees are converted Christians.”

Delhi-based activist Madhu Kishwar’s Manushi Sangathan has been reported for misusing/misappropriating funds and violating FCRA. Manushi was never charged with misappropriation, Kishwar told HT. “As a policy, we never accept foreign funding from international aid agencies and get modest NRI contributions. Our accounts are totally transparent and available on the website,” she said.

In January 2014, Kishwar got an FCRA notice for inspection of accounts which she refused to oblige, demanding proof of wrongdoing. Another notice came after the NDA came to power. “After I stated Manushi’s case in a press conference, I got a phone call saying the inspection had been called off! Since then no one has bothered us.”

The Modi government was Tuesday asked by the Delhi high court to release funds to Greenpeace in India. Greenpeace India had moved the court against the Centre’s move to block funds dispatched from its Amsterdam headquarters since June.

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