NGOs’ Going Anti – National?

Centre to states: Track NGOs for ‘anti-national’ activities

Following a crackdown on NGOs over alleged violations of norms related to foreign funding, the Centre has written to state governments and union territories to “monitor” the activities of such organisations that indulge in “anti-national activities”.

The communication sent by Daniel E Richards, Joint Secretary, Home Ministry, reads: “It has come to notice that some NGOs and organisations are involved in anti-national activities… The States/UTs are requested to take urgent action and ensure that state police also monitor the activities and funding of such NGOs and other organisations.”

Government officials said police have also been asked to track activities of NGOs engaged in protests against various “development projects” in states.

“A protest at Thoothukudi in Tamil Nadu in May led to the loss of 11 lives where the role of an NGO was suspected,” an official said. The issue of NGOs indulging in “anti-development” and “anti-national” activities will be taken up during the DGP-IGP conference in December, he said.

“An action point emerging was for the state police to monitor funding of such NGOs,” said the Home Ministry’s note.

In 2014, an Intelligence Bureau (IB) report had identified several foreign-funded NGOs that were “negatively impacting economic development”. Subsequently, according to Home Ministry records, the FCRA licences of more than 13,000 NGOs were cancelled, including Greenpeace, Compassion International and Ford Foundation.

Investigations were also launched against several top NGOs, including one set up by activist Teesta Setalvad and preacher Zakir Naik who was booked by the National Investigation Agency for “anti-national acts”.

Last week, the Enforcement Directorate raided the Bengaluru office of Amnesty International in connection with a case of alleged violation of norms under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA).

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In May, Pune Police arrested several activists and raided NGOs for their alleged involvement in Bhima-Koregaon violence. Police claimed that there was a plot to kill PM Narendra Modi and later arrested activists Varavara Rao, Sudha Bharadwaj, Arun Ferreira, Gautam Navlakha and Vernon Gonsalves.

In its reply to a Parliament question this year, the Government informed Rajya Sabha that the FCRA licence of 18,864 associations and institutions had been cancelled since 2011 leading to a sharp dip in foreign contribution coming to India. “NGOs received Rs 6,499 crore in 2016-17, as compared to Rs 17,773 crore in 2015-16. The amount received during 2014-15 was Rs 15,299 crore,” read the Government’s statement.