The Telegraph
Thursday , July 9 , 2015

Ford donation quiz looms on Teesta

Teesta Setalvad

New Delhi, July 8: The CBI will question activist Teesta Setalvad and her husband Javed Anand in connection with an alleged violation of the Foreign Contributions Regulation Act while receiving funds from international donors, a senior agency official said today.

The agency has registered a case against Teesta - a known critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi - and Javed, both directors of the organisation Sabrang Communications and Publishing Pvt Ltd, following an order from the Union home ministry last month.

"The probe is in its initial stages. We will soon examine Setalvad and her husband to find out about the alleged violation," the official said.

The official said Sabrang, which publishes the magazine Communalism Combat, accepted a donation of $2.9 lakh from the Ford Foundation of the US, though it's not clear when the money was received.

According to rules, a private organisation can accept donations from abroad only after it is registered under the FCRA. Sabrang is not registered under the act.

Sabrang is also alleged to have received the amount without clearance from the home ministry, which has ordered the CBI to freeze the organisation's accounts.

Teesta and the Gujarat government, then headed by Modi, have been locked in legal battles. The activist had filed cases against state government functionaries, including Modi, in connection with the 2002 riots, while Gujarat police accused her of embezzling funds meant for victims of the pogrom.

In January, Gujarat police registered a case against the couple alleging that they collected over Rs 7-8 crore on the pretext of constructing a memorial to the victims but diverted the money for their personal use.

In April, the Gujarat government wrote to the Union home ministry alleging that the US-based Ford Foundation was interfering in India's internal affairs and "abetting communal disharmony".

In its complaint, the state government accused the Foundation of encouraging the Sabrang trust and the Citizens for Justice and Peace, an NGO also run by Teesta, to indulge in acts prejudicial to communal disharmony.

Taking note of the allegation, the home ministry put the Ford Foundation, one of the top international funding organisations, on the watch-list in the interest of "national interest and security".

It ordered that all funds from the Foundation to any NGO or agency would have to be first cleared by the ministry.

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