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18 June, 2014

Cops train guns on NGOs

BRP Bhaskar
While Prime Minister Narendra Modi maintains his statesmanlike posture the Intelligence Bureau has queered the pitch by leaking a secret report alleging that several non-government organisations are trying to scuttle India’s development at the behest of foreign donors.

It was at the instance of the Manmohan Singh government that the IB began scrutiny of foreign funds’ flow to NGOs. The report which has surfaced, however, is one prepared with Modi in mind.

It includes passages lifted from a speech he had delivered in 2006 while releasing a book on NGOs published by Vigil Public Forum, Chennai, a pro-Sangh Parivar outfit. It looks like a ruse to force the pre-poll Modi to stand up.

Offshoot of a unit set up in England by the colonial regime in 1887, since Independence the IB has performed to the satisfaction of its new masters, earning rewards for its directors in the form of gubernatorial assignments.

There is no executive order or parliamentary enactment which defines the IB’s functions. A public interest litigation questioning its legal authority, filed two years ago, is pending before the Supreme Court.

Unlike the Central Bureau of Investigation and the state police agencies, which are required to produce evidence which will satisfy a court of law, as an intelligence outfit the IB does not have to substantiate its charges. Consequently, its men can tell their political masters what they like to hear.

IB documents are not usually declassified but some of its activities have come to light through autobiographical writings of its former chiefs or through criminal investigations.

For instance, BN Malik, who headed it for 14 years has, in his book My Days with Nehru, provided information on its work in the context of the conflicts with Pakistan and China.

The CBI, which is investigating two fake encounter cases of Gujarat, recently sought the Home Ministry’s permission to prosecute four IB officers. The ministry asked it to produce the case diaries. It refused as courts do not approve of its sharing such documents with others.

One of the first appointments Modi made as prime minister was that of Ajit Kumar Doval, who was IB’s operational chief for a decade and retired as its director in 2005, as the National Security Adviser.

Doval, who thinks lack of a “serious desire to act” is one of the weaknesses of the anti-terror activity, said in a 2008 interview: “We have to get from the defensive mode to the offensive mode. Every hour new ideas need to be generated. It is essentially a game of outsmarting and outwitting. Whoever can think faster and do the unexpected will win the game.”

Praful Bidwai, well-known activist-journalist, wrote that he had discovered during a television debate that Doval belongs to a school of policing that believes that the only way to deal with terrorists, real or imaginary, is to shoot first and ask questions later.

Some insiders appear to have been keen to ensure wide publicity for the report damning NGOs. After its contents leaked to the press, the entire report, complete with the name of the author, SA Rizvi, appeared on the web.

The report alleges that Greenpeace and some US bodies have formed a coal network to take down 455 proposed power stations. It accuses anti-nuclear activist SP Udayakumar of using funds provided by a US university and maps supplied by a German to take down the nuclear programme. It also talks of NGOs’ future plans to take down Gujarat-model economic development projects.

The IB seeks to discredit the protests of the affected people and even the interventions of the Legislature and the Judiciary in project-related matters. It blames foreign funded activism for the protests that stalled the mega industrial projects of the Vedanta group and South Korea’s POSCO and for the restrictions on genetically modified crops recommended by a parliamentary committee and a Supreme Court-appointed expert committee.

Apart from Greenpeace, other reputed organisations like Amnesty International, ActionAid and the People’s Union for Civil Liberties and highly regarded individuals like Vandana Shiva, Suman Sahai and Prashant Bhushan are named in the report.

Civil society groups rejected the allegations as a figment of the IB’s imagination. Udayakumar said he was considering legal action as he and his family had felt threatened after the report was leaked.

Swami Agnivesh, a well-known activist, demanded that Modi ask the IB to substantiate its charges and take action against the persons concerned if they are not able to do so.

The IB’s silence on the foreign funds that Sangh Parivar-promoted NGOs receive and the motives of its donors betrays its political partisanship.--Gulf Today, Sharjah, June 18, 2014.

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