International NGOs Amnesty International and Greenpeace have accused the Indian government of carrying out a ‘smear campaign’ against activists, NGOs and journalists, blaming the official crackdown for forcing them to severely downsize the staff in the country, reports The Guardian.
An Amnesty International India manager Smriti Singh revealed that the charity had to let a number of people go. The London-based charity has sacked 68 employees since October this year when officials from the Enforcement Directorate raided its headquarters in Bengaluru for ostensibly receiving illegal funding from abroad.
“Senior management are going through an exercise to see how we can operate with the minimum we have,” she stated.
The Indian government has been on a warpath against international NGOs operating in the country for violating laws such as the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act. Allegations that such illegal contributions are being utilised by foreign entities to destabilise India have been made in the past.
According to the report, Amnesty International was using a loophole in the strict foreign funding regulations by using its foreign branches to purchase ‘Human Rights toolkits’ produced by the Indian branch; the proceeds from which were then used to fund the India activities of the organisation. The organisation, however, claims innocence and says it was not violating any Indian laws.
Greenpeace has also been facing similar troubles, as many of its bank accounts have been frozen after its license to receive funds from abroad was revoked in 2015. The NGO has had to downsize staff by roughly 30 per cent.
Another leading NGO in India, the Christian-run Compassion International, was forced to shut its India operations last year due to its inability to receive foreign funds.
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