Slamming the Intelligence Bureau (IB) report on foreign funding of NGOs, a group of anti-nuclear activists named in the report on Friday said the report was motivated, based on “unfounded allegations” and aimed at “discrediting popular struggles”.
Former Navy Chief Admiral L Ramdas, anti-nuclear activists Achin Vanaik, Praful Bidwai, S P Udayakumar and M G Devasahayam lashed out at the IB for the content as well as intent of the report — first reported by The Indian Express. “It is a cock and bull story based on false, baseless allegations and a series of innuendoes trying to establish guilt by mere associations,” activist and columnist Bidwai said.
“CNDP (Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace), of which Achin Vanaik and I are founder members, takes no money at all from foreign sources, corporate sources, government sources and is entirely funded by our own individual contributions,” he said.
Vanaik, meanwhile, said he was “concerned” that through this report, ground was being prepared to “discredit popular struggles”.
Udayakumar, convener of the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy, said he was “deeply appalled and aggrieved” and that the report had “undermined” his and his family’s security. He refuted that Sonata Rainer Hermann, a German national who was deported from Chennai in 2012, was his contact as reported by the IB. He said Hermann was not his “contact in Germany” but was an acquaintance from Nagercoil, his hometown in Tamil Nadu. “Knowing somebody does not make him my sponsor. This is an effort to discourage popular protests from opposing dangerous projects,” he said.
Ramdas, a Magsaysay award winner, said the IB report was deliberately leaked to “demean the individuals”.
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While Devasahayam said the report was “absolute conspiracy theory”, former Director General of Tripura Police K S Subramanian, expressing solidarity with the activists, said the IB was “not authorised” to write such reports and that it should be placed in Parliament.
The People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), also named in the report, condemned it. “PUCL condemns the attempt, in the guise of an IB report submitted to the Prime Minister of India, to intimidate, slander, throttle and terrorise the voice of various citizens’ groups, NGOs and individuals, who raise people’s issues relating to violations of their fundamental rights guaranteed by the Indian constitution…,” it said in a statement.
“The bogey of “foreign funding” is raised more to smear individuals and groups challenging unfair, unjust inequitable and unsustainable state and corporate projects… We therefore call upon the new BJP-led government to respect people’s right to articulate their views, including their fundamental right to dissent and protest peaceably and in democratic manner,” it added.