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MHA unlikely to remove US NGO from watchlist

CI was put on the watchlist in May this year based on reports from intelligence agencies saying that the NGO was involved in in religious conversion in India.

Written by Rahul Tripathi | New Delhi |
December 14, 2016 4:43:08 am
Ministry of Home Affairs, MHA, US NGO, US NGO-MHA, US NGO under watch list, US NGO-religious conversion, India news, IndiAN Express Ministry of Home affairs. Image For representational purpose,

 

Colorado-based NGO Compassion International (CI), which was put under the prior permission (PP) category by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), is not likely to be removed from the watchlist despite concerns raised by the US, ministry officials have said. The government is, however, considering the request by CI, a child rights donor agency, to allow donations to 35 Indian NGOs.

“We have got field reports regarding 18 NGOs which can now receive funds. For the remaining NGOs, the reports are awaited,” said a top government official.

CI was put on the watchlist in May this year based on reports from intelligence agencies saying that the NGO was involved in in religious conversion in India. It was alleged that the NGO violated anti-conversions laws in India several times, and that people were given inducements to convert.

The allegations were refuted by the NGO. During a recent hearing before US lawmakers in Washington, CI representatives threatened to pull out of India if they were not allowed to operate. As per government records, CI funds nearly 350 NGOs in India with Rs 290 crore every year.

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The MHA position on not removing CI from the watchlist comes a day after US ambassador at-large for international religious freedom David Saperstein visited India and expressed hope that the Indian government would “accommodate” their concerns about CI.

“We are deeply concerned when civil society organisations who act peacefully are restricted from carrying out their obligations by the government. We really hope that groups like Compassion International, who have indicated they are willing to live by the laws of the land will be allowed to continue their partnership here,” said Saperstein.

MHA officials said they had received a representation from the US embassy as well and, after examining it, had taken a decision not to remove CI from the watchlist. However, the NGO will be allowed to donate after clearance from agencies.

“We are allowing CI to give grants on case-to-case basis as per prior permission category rules. We cleared grant for 10 NGOs last month and received reports on eight more this month, based on which their grant will be released,” an official added. So far, MHA has cleared grants of Rs 2 crore to 10 NGOs funded by CI.

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