By Prafulla Samantara,
The recent report prepared by the Intelligence Bureau (IB), of Central Government is around use of foreign funds by Non Government Organisation (NGOs) and supporters of environmental movements and anti displacements groups. This looks like a well planned, corporate sponsored government document. This report is a weapon – firstly, to use this report to defame the ongoing democratic movements to protect natural resources. Secondly, to restrain the freedom of organisations individuals, who have been raising these issues at various national and international forums?
During national emergency of 1975, thousands of human rights activists, senior journalists, editors, student, youth and political leaders who struggled to revive democracy against autocratic rule were sent to jail. I was also a victim among them. That time Amnesty International started a movement against the autocratic rule of Indira Gandhi, to protect Indian Constitutional system and democratic rights of people. This organisation works for the protection of human rights in different countries. Under these circumstances what is wrong in raising questions about Vedanta. As there are human rights violations, damage due to pollution, attack on human rights activists and illegal activities conducted for and by Vedanta? The then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had also raised objection that Jay Prakash movement received foreign support like the present government is doing. She enacted a law to regulate foreign funding. In 2010, this Act has been amended to restrict the use of this fund for the purpose of rally, dharna and blockades. Who is stopping government to take action against those who are violating this law?
People’s Union for Civil Liberty (PUCL) was created by Jay Prakash Narayan to protect human rights and to prevent the inhuman torture by police during emergency. This organisation works to give justice to the people who have suffered from state oppression. Today this is the great responsibility of this organisation to protect police attack on movements, forceful land acquisition and human rights violations. The list of people who support the movement against nuclear energy is given in this report. Protests against such projects are there across the globe. This is a question of humanity. After Chernobyl and Fukusima nuclear disaster accidents, countries like Japan and German have started to stop such projects.In this context in our country, people’s movement have started from Kudamkulam to Daitapur, Haripur including different places in Andhra Pradesh. Any international organisation supporting such movements with ideology and principle does not mean that the local movement is getting foreign funding.
We believe it as patriotism to create movement against hazardous plants and for production of solar energy as an alternative to nuclear and coal fired power projects. Sustainability of human society and nature is possible through this approach. The motive behind targeting people like renowned journalist Prafulla Kidwai, Ex Admiral of Indian Navy Ram Dos, is clear that nobody will differ from Government decision andpolicy. It means killing democracy by democratic process. This report has raised concern about role of NGOs in two industrial projects and one coal mine in Odisha. Niyamgiri protection movement started against Vedanta by local tribal people. The movement slowly expanded with the support of local cadres and leaders and oppose forceful land acquisition and providing forest land to Vedanta. I filed petition before Central Empowered Committee of The Supreme Court of India challenging water and biodiversity conservation in Niyamgiri. First the CE Committee and then the SC did not allow mining of bauxite in Niyamagir through their verdicts.
Vedanta is a London based Company. If different organisations in London raise their voice and concern against company’s anti environment and anti tribal activities, how can it be justified to say that they are creating threat to economic security of our country? The case of anti POSCO movement is the same. All political leaders and bureaucrats who support this company to exploit our land, water and mines become nationalist. But those who support movements and people in Khandadhara and Dhinkia to protect Mahanadi River, our forest, land and water or showed their solidarity to these movements are branded as anti national. It is intentional with ill motivation. If human rights organisations and environment protection groups across the globe support people like us who oppose the globalised policy of capitalist development and projects in India, then what is wrong with this? IB is not able to see the threat to the security of our Country while we have opened our door for FDI in land, water, mining and even our defence and allow USA access to all our Agriculture Research Institutes and Universities. No action has been taken against any political leaders who received Jain Hawala money. Rather the beneficiary are in power politics.
Norway Government withdrew pension fund and black listed Vedanta after the Supreme Court CENTRAL Empowered Committee’s verdict against this Company. It is natural Movements will spread everywhere against such companies. GM food is banned in Europe. It is not an offence to raise people’s awareness on GM crops in India by national or foreign organisations while our Government accept it for the country. There are many organisations like National Alliances of People’s Movement support such movement in Niyamgiri. Rahul Gandhi declared himself as the army of Tribals in Niyamgir. The present Tribal Minister, Jual Oram has been talking against giving mining to POCSO from the beginning. The Central Government had banned mining in Niyamagiri because of Forest Rights Act. The Supreme Court also ratified the decision of Gram Sabha. Why IB has not shown finger to the role they have played? It is worthless for the IB to say in its report that few NGOs have stopped projects of POSCO and Vedanta and our GDP has reduced by 2% to 3% because of these NGOs. Rather the protest movement has kept our minerals and natural resources protected which ultimately contribute to so-called GDP.
If the government, whole heartedly want transparency in NGOs, it has to verify the property of the heads of the NGOs who are working in collaboration with World Bank and working with other govt. support. Because many NGO heads are functioning directly through Corporate Social Responsibility package. They are using funds, for their personal benefits, from the projects they have received as per planning commission recommendation. Thus, their movable and immovable properties need to be audited by auditor general, as they are encouraged by the government to work without any accountability. Targeting NGOs who oppose the current destructive development process because of the vested interest of the corporate is intentional. Is it not deliberate to target only eight to ten NGOs branding them anti development (economic terrors), while forty thousand NGOs receive foreign funding in the country.
How the state is targeting democratic movement leaders under false and fabricated allegations either to demoralise or threat using FCRA as a weapon, but sometime it backs fire. My case is an example. Recently the Home Ministry of the union government served notice to me as the chief of Lok Shakti Abhiyan to submit the details of foreign fund contributions and its expenditures, which was a surprise to me. The fact is that our organisation is a people’s forum, not a registered NGO, even it has no accounts in any bank of our country. It is also very peculiar that the ministry does not know my address for which the notice was sent to Mumbai NAPM office instead of Bhubaneswar or my home address at Berhampur in Odisha. My reply was accordingly. It proves that the central home ministry is run by the corporate rather by facts.
In a democracy every individual, people’s forum, any NGO even getting foreign fund and any political organisation have right to question, dissent or protest any decision or policy of the govt whether it is model of development or a project at the cost of people’s right to life or livelihood. This is fundamental right guaranteed in the constitution.
The people of India could foil the design of a dictatorial regime in Emergency in a historic silent election of 1977.The great Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was defeated in her constituency though she had got reflected to power as hero of 1971 war for Bangladesh. So the people of our country can not allow the people in power to throttle democratic rights though they have elected their govt for a change which should not have an ugly face.
Prafulla Samantara is a noted social activist from Odisha and currently President, Lok Shakti Abhiyan.