April 16, 2015 3:03:57 am
Following investigations into the embezzlement of funds by social activist Teesta Setalvad and her husband Javed Anand, the Gujarat government has accused US-based NGO Ford Foundation of Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) violation and “direct interference by a foreign NGO in the internal affairs of the country and abetting communal disharmony in India”. The Gujarat government has written a letter, dated March 10, in this regard to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, requesting it “to look into the matter and investigate further”.
With the content of the letter becoming public, Setalvad on Wednesday issued a statement wherein she said, “Following the letter from the Gujarat Government to MHA, a team of four senior officers from the Monitoring Unit of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) department, New Delhi, visited the registered offices of Sabrang Trust and Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) for an inspection of the accounts and records of both the trusts.” The statement added that the MHA team had inspected accounts and other records of Sabrang Trust and CJP for six days in April and they were extended “full support”.
In its letter to the MHA, Gujarat government has stated, “It is revealed during the course of investigation (in the riot relief fund embezzlement case) that Ford Foundation, established with the stated goal of promoting communal harmony, democratic principles and social justice, has been indulging in covert activities of promoting interests that are completely contradictory to the said goals.”
To buttress its allegation, the Gujarat government has stated that both CJP and Sabrang Trust had got majority of the funding from the Ford Foundation and more than 75 per cent of that fund was used for running the two group’s offices “and not for realising any clear objectives”. It has alleged that the offices of the two organisations were “proxy offices of Ford Foundation that are being cultivated and positioned by the latter with some long-term plan”.
Gujarat’s Minister of State for Home Rajnikant Patel said, “We learnt that funds which Sabrang Trust received, especially from Ford Foundation, were used for disturbing communal harmony here and carrying out anti-national propaganda against India in foreign countries. According to information given by the Ford Foundation (to state police), we came to know that she had used the funds to carry out a campaign against the Gujarat government and also against the country.”
Patel said that Ford Foundation had donated more than $5 lakh to Setalvad’s NGO.
Setalvad, however, denied violations of Foreign Contributions Regulation Act (FCRA) provisions by her NGOs, after Gujarat government demanded the Union Home Ministry to probe the functioning of her organisations.
The Gujarat Police have been probing an alleged fund embezzlement case to the tune of Rs 1.51 crore against Setalvad, based on a complaint by the survivors of Gulberg Society. Incidentally, Setalvad’s anticipatory bail plea is pending before the larger bench of the Supreme Court in the case. Earlier, Gujarat HC had rejected her pre-arrest bail plea. – With PTI inputs
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