NEW DELHI: THE government has asked Amnesty India, facing sedition charges over a Kashmir conference, to register under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), even as police advised the staff of the human rights advocacy group to stay away from their office in the capital.
“We asked our staff to work from other locations today as a precautionary measure, based on police advice,” said Aakar Patel, executive director of Amnesty International India.
According to top sources, the Centre will soon issue another missive directing all NGOs with expenditure of more than Rs 10 lakh in the last three years to register under the FCRA. The controversy surrounding Amnesty has brought the focus back on international NGOs operating in India without FCRA licences. Sources said Amnesty India was operating through the prior permission route. Of the eight applications seeking permission that the human rights NGO had moved before the home ministry for receiving foreign funds since 2000, at least four were rejected.
“The ministry approved foreign funds to Amnesty worth £1,30,629 in 2000, £2,21,428 in 2004, Rs 54.4 lakh in 2009 and Rs 1.69 crore in 2012. The ministry denied permission to Amnesty to receive foreign funds of Rs 32.72 lakh in 2010, Rs 1.69 crore and Rs 2.65 crore in 2012 and Rs 80 lakh in 2013,” said a source. The government is also not keen to allow Amnesty International to open a hub in India to look after its operations in South Asia. The NGO registered as Amnesty International South Asia Foundation on May 8, 2015, had also wanted to bring in foreign funds to the tune of Rs 18,61,92,688 under the prior permission category for its operations.
“The application is under examination and in all likelihood we will deny the permission as we have found that the NGO has been getting foreign funds without registering under FCRA, thus bypassing laws,” said a ministry source. The NGO was slapped with sedition charges for hosting an event in Bengaluru where anti-India slogans were raised.