Indian Government denies any crackdown on Caritas India

2015-06-25 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) A Home Ministry spokesperson while referring to news appearing in a section of media claiming that Caritas India has been put under "prior approval category", gave details of the case and said the NGO had been remitted Rs 1.6 crore by the Netherlands-based donor which had been stopped.

"A Netherlands-based foreign donor agency Stichting Cordaid has been placed under prior approval category on August 6, 2012. Any inward remittance from this agency to any Indian NGO will be credited only after clearance from the Ministry of Home Affairs," the spokesperson said.

He said a reference was received from Standard Chartered Bank's New Delhi branch seeking clearance for crediting of an inward remittance of Euro 2,30,000 (Rs 1.6 crore) from the Netherlands donor agency in favour of Caritas India, which is an NGO working in India registered under FCRA, 2010.

"Comments of security agency were sought and on the basis of the inputs received from them the matter is under consideration in the Ministry," he said.

An official of Caritas India, which has been operating in India for more than 50 years and works on health, education and poverty-related issues, however, said the case was related to last year when the organisation was notified by the bank concerned.

"We made it categorically clear that if the government had objection over the donor agency, we will not take the money at all. Therefore, no such amount has been debited to our account," the official said.

The government has been cracking on various NGOs and has so far cancelled 15,876 licences of these entities under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act after the NGOs allegedly failed to submit their annual returns and complete other anomalies.

It has frozen the domestic and international bank accounts of Greenpeace India, although the domestic accounts were recently unfrozen on the orders of a court.

In April it placed the Ford Foundation, an American charitable organisation, on the watch list, saying it was funding groups which acted against the national interest.

All the organisations were given proper notice by the Foreigners' Division of the Home Ministry with adequate time to reply before their FCRA licences were cancelled, official sources said.

Earlier, in the back drop of the Indian government crackdown on foreign organisations operating in the country, AFP had reported a home ministry official who said that Caritas had violated India's foreign funding laws by financing groups that were working "against the country".

He had said Caritas had been placed on a list of organisations needing prior government approval to receive or distribute funds in India, a move also reported by the Indian Express.

"There was clear violation of foreign funding law," said the official, who asked not to be named, citing funding for groups which protested against a nuclear plant in Tamil Nadu.

The Prime Minister has criticised what he calls "five-star activists" and a government intelligence report last year reportedly said they were working with foreign powers to undermine India's economic growth.

(Economic Times, AFP)

(from Vatican Radio)