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Manipur NGO warns action

Imphal, June 17: The Imphal-based NGO, Centre for Organisation Research and Education (CORE), which is named in an Intelligence Bureau (IB) report as a recipient of funds from a Dutch NGO to stall projects in the Northeast, has sought a clarification from the agency, failing which it has threatened legal action.

A recent IB report named CORE and some other NGOs operating in the Northeast as recipients of funds from Cordaid, a Dutch NGO, for activism aimed at stalling projects in the region.

The report said Cordaid planned to scuttle oil drilling in three districts of Manipur — Churachandpur, Tamenglong and Jiribam in Imphal East, all big dams in Arunachal Pradesh and mining projects in Meghalaya.

“We dismiss this reported classified document mentioned in the media, and its alleged contents as levelling of charges without any evidence to support its claims and an obvious attempt to muzzle the fundamental freedoms of speech and association, the right to information that are guaranteed by the Indian Constitution,” Laifungbam Debabrata Roy, president of Elders’ Council, and Immnanuel Zarzosang Varte, executive director of CORE, said in a joint statement here today.

CORE termed the IB report as “fictitious allegation, outright libel, slander and defamation” aimed to whip up public sentiment. “We demand an immediate clarification from the Intelligence Bureau or we shall be constrained to seek legal opinion,” the statement said.

CORE admitted receiving Rs 4 lakh last year from the Rural Women Upliftment Society, a Churachandpur-based NGO that had been funded by Cordaid. He said the funds were meant for a time-bound project that ended this month. The project was for community-based advocacy on conservation of environment and documentation of natural resources, including the setting up of two model green villages in Manipur. The statement said many stakeholders, including village authorities, church leaders, student leaders and national security forces like the Assam Rifles, had participated in the project. It said CORE has no official links, past or present, with Cordaid or any other NGO mentioned in the IB report.

It said CORE was an indigenous peoples’ organisation, founded in 1987 as a non-profit registered NGO. It focuses on civil, political, cultural, economic and social rights of the indigenous people of the Northeast. It said it had special consultative relations with Economic and Social Council of the UN for nine years as well as other national and international organisations. It has been regularly submitting audited annual financial reports to the income tax department, registrar of societies, home ministry and IB and quadrennial reports to the UN, it added.