New Delhi, Dec. 27: The Modi regime has barred 20,000 NGOs from receiving foreign funds over the past 18 months, cancelling their FCRA licences on charges of violating the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, Union home ministry documents have revealed.
The action, which has sparked allegations from civil society groups that the government is trying to stifle dissent, means only 13,000 NGOs can legally receive foreign funds.
"Out of 33,000 NGOs in India receiving foreign donations, the FCRA licences of 20,000 have been revoked over the past one and a half years. Those NGOs were found to be violating FCRA laws," said a North Block official.
The list of 20,000 blacklisted NGOs was given to Union home minister Rajnath Singh during a review meeting today.
"Many of the 20,000 NGOs whose FCRA licences were revoked are rights-based advocacy groups and mainly involved in human rights work," said the ministry official.
A fortnight ago, the home ministry had revoked the FCRA licence of Anhad, an NGO run by Modi critic Shabnam Hashmi, for alleged "undesirable activities against public interest".
It also cancelled the FCRA licences of two NGOs run by Teesta Setalvad, another Modi critic, and that of Greenpeace after "inadvertently" renewing them recently.
Anhad (Act Now for Harmony and Democracy), set up after the 2002 Gujarat carnage, has been fighting for the riot victims. Setalvad is the co-petitioner in a 2002 riot case in Gujarat when Modi was chief minister.
NGOs need to renew their licences under the FCRA every five years to keep receiving funds from abroad.
Ministry sources said soon after coming to power, the Modi government had started background checks of NGOs getting foreign donations and an internal probe to ascertain whether their activities were against "public interest".
Hashmi has decided to challenge the cancellation of Anhad's FCRA licence in court. But she asserted that her NGO would continue its work for the downtrodden.
"This government's actions are second only to Emergency-era intolerance. We have no other option but to fight it out," she said.
Among the violations by the 20,000 NGOs are:
♦ Clubbing foreign contribution accounts with domestic accounts;
♦ Failure to submit annual accounts in the stipulated time;
♦ Transfer of foreign contribution to unregistered NGOs;
♦ Utilisation of foreign contributions for purposes different from the grant or different from the objectives of the recipient NGO;
♦ Registration of assets from foreign contributions in the individual names of office-bearers than in the name of the NGO;
♦ Utilisation of over 50 per cent of foreign contribution received in a financial year on administrative expenses;
♦ Change of more than 50 per cent of office-bearers without prior approval.