Concerned US Seeks Clarification on Indian Crackdown on Ford Foundation, Greenpeace

Marie Harf, Acting Spokesperson for the US State Department

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Washington, DC – The United States on Friday expressed concern over India’s tightening the noose around civil societies in the country and sought clarification from appropriate Indian officials.

“We are aware that the Ministry of Home Affairs (India) suspended the registration of Green Peace India and has placed the Ford Foundation on a prior permission watch list,” said Marie Harf, Acting Spokesperson for the US State Department at her daily press briefing.

Answering a question, Harf said, “We remain concerned about the difficulties caused to civil society organizations by the manner in which the Foreign Contributions Regulations Act (FCRA) has been applied.”

Earlier a State Department Spokesperson told Indian American TImes in an email, “As President Obama has said “When people are free to speak their minds and hold their leaders accountable, governments are more responsive and more effective.” Vibrant civil societies provide a critical component to democracies by ensuring that everyone can freely voice their views on policies in both the public and private sectors.”

Indian Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Thursday in a letter to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), published by Indian news media, asked the central bank to place the Ford Foundation on a watch list and make sure the funds coming from the organization are used “for bona fide welfare activities without compromising on concerns for national interest and security.”

The media reports pointed fingers at the fact that some activists were helping victims of 2002 Gujarat riots to get justice. It is worth noting that due to those riots, the US had declared the present Indian Prime Minister and then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, persona non-grata for nearly a decade by denying visa to visit the US.

Moreover, besides the Ford Foundation fiasco, the Modi government has suspended the FCRA license that allows Greenpeace India to get funds from overseas.

“We are concerned that this recent ruling limits the necessary and critical debate within Indian society and we are seeking a clarification on this issue with the appropriate Indian authorities,” Harf said.

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