As many as 172 NGOs protest over the way “civil society organisations in general and their support systems, including foreign donors are being labelled and targeted

NEW DELHI : Systematic attacks and curbs on the voluntary organisations (NGOs) have rattled those engaged in public services outside the government as they see deliberate intimidation and harassment.

They have come together and petitioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi to stop the vindictiveness, pleading that they are not “anti-national” nor they pose any threat to the “national security” as being alleged by various government agencies in a bid to paralyse their activities.

In a joint petition, as many as 172 NGOs protested over the way “civil society organisations in general and their support systems, including foreign donors are being labelled and targeted.”

In the joint petition they have protested the way the government agencies cracked down on Greenpeace, freezing its bank accounts in India and suspending its access to foreign funds. The petition said: “Funds are being frozen, intelligence reports are being selectively released to paint NGOs in poor light, disbursal of funds is being subjected to case-by-case clearance and their activities are reportedly being kept on the watch lists.”

It pointed out that several NGO projects had been shut because of an atmosphere of “state coercion and intimidation” created since last October when the home ministry served show-cause notices to over 10,000 NGOs, threatening to cancel the permission to them under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) despite most of them filing regular returns of the foreign donations.

The petition complained that the registration of most of these NGOs has been cancelled and the accounts of as many as 34 NGOs, including Greenpeace, have been frozen in the past one month, making it impossible to function as they were not even able to pay salaries to staff.

Only early this week, US ambassador Rahul Richard Verma expressed “concern” over the government putting curbs on the funds received by the NGOs from various organisations in the United States. The government has already banned 69 NGOs from receiving the foreign contributions while 16 foreign donors, including the Ford Foundation of the US, have been put under “watch” requiring them to take the Indian government’’s permission to send any funds to the Indian NGOs.

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