NGO booked for using funds to push religious conversions: CBI
The Central Bureau of Investigation has registered a case against a Chennai based NGO, Caruna Bal Vikas for allegedly receiving crores of rupees from Colorado based donor, Compassion International, which it alleges was used to convert people. The international donor shut down its India operations in March 2017 after the ban, also causing some tension in Indo-US relations at the time.
The Narendra Modi led government barred Compassion International from funding Indian NGOs without its permission in May 2016 over allegations of conversions.
At the time, some US lawmakers requested India to reconsider its decision. The then US secretary of state John Kerry also, during his visit in 2017, tried to convince then external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj to reconsider the decision.
The union home ministry said then that money given to Caruna Bal Vikas by Compassion International was being diverted for conversion activities to NGOs owing allegiance to the Methodist Church, Baptist Church, Salvation Army, Christian Missionary Society and Indian Pentecostal Church, in violation of the law.
To be sure, CBI has not named Compassion International as an accused in its FIR registered last Thursday. However, its name is in the FIR in reference to funding Caruna Bal Vikas.
In its FIR, reviewed by HT, CBI has alleged that Chennai based Caruna Bal Vikas (CBV), which was registered under foreign contribution registration act (FCRA), “has invariably indulged in religious activities” despite stating the nature of association as economic, educational and social in its account of foreign contributions filed from financial years 2011-12 to 2014-15.
“Further, special audit conducted by the Income Tax department also reveal that a part of foreign receipts has been used for religious activities by CBV. Further, CBV has, inter alia, declared its long term objective of ‘converting poor children into fulfilled Christian adults’, and thus engaged in religious activities including conversions to Christianity. Such activities have potential to disturb communal harmony and therefore,(are) in violation of FCRA, 2010,” CBI FIR states.
“As per IT department’s report, CBV utilized only 10% of foreign contribution for the purpose it was meant for, while the remaining 90% was diverted to 300 NGOs in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and other states. Some of the NGOs are not FCRA registered,” it adds.
Subsequently, another company, Adhane Management Consultants Pvt Ltd (AMCPL), Chennai, was created in July 2014 after action by IT department on CBV. In both the companies, the CEO, directors and registered address are common.
“Soon after AMCPL was registered, the funding of Compassion International-USA, which was earlier channeled through CBV, was shifted wholly to AMCPL. CBV received Rs 6.75 crore in 2014-15 as against Rs 109.50 crore in 2011-12, Rs 130.52 crore in 2012-13 and Rs 111.71 crore in 2013-14. AMPCL received Rs 6.75 crore from Compassion without prior permission,” states CBI FIR.
AMCPL is named as accused in CBI along with CBV. Both have been charged under criminal conspiracy and FCRA act.
An email sent to Compassion International remained unanswered. CBV’s office bearers could not be located .