A group of civil society organisations Friday slammed the central government for allegedly “targeting organisations working for the rights of marginal populations”. During a press conference, held by the Support Cell for Civil Society Organisations, the activists said the suspension and cancellation of Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) licences of over 10,500 NGOs was “blocking billions in funds, which would have helped in strengthening of democratisation at grassroots level”.
Venkatesh Nayak of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative said the rules framed under the FCRA were “against the principles of natural justice”. “The law is arbitrary and it gives authority to the government to suppress voices of dissent,” said Nayak.
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Senior advocate Anand Grover, part of the NGO Lawyers Collective whose FCRA licence was recently suspended, claimed the developments showed the “hypocrisy” of the government.
Paul Divakar, from the National Campaign for Dalit Rights, claimed that the “State has failed in its responsibility to strengthen democratisation of the marginalised communities”. He claimed that the central government was blocking access of Dalit and tribal groups to the resources brought in by NGOs.
The organisations also raised questions on the legality of the bans imposed on donors and the “watchlists” created by the Union Home Ministry. “FCRA is to regulate recipients of foreign funds. Under what law are they passing orders against the donors,” asked Biraj Patnaik of the CSO Support Cell.