NEW DELHI: Foreign funding of NGOs, especially under the garb of ‘development aid’, seems to be posing a grave threat to the country. Intelligence officials examining such funding patterns are shocked as Netherlands-based Landlijke India Werkgroep (LIW) was found to be assisting the insurgent groups in the Northeast.
LIW, based in Utrecht city and funded by CORDAID which is “planning to bring down the development projects in the Northeast”, claims to be one of the largest Dutch development aid organisations with presence in 38 countries across Africa, Asia and the Middle East. On the face of it, the donation appears to be routine and a normal transaction between donor and recipient. However, the fund transfers have sent shockwaves among the agencies monitoring the function of suspicious social organisations in the troubled parts of India.
An input of external spy agency Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) suggests that LIW, which claims to have been working in the field of child labour and Dalit uplift, is in fact maintains close contact with a number of dissident groups from the Northeast including NDFB and ULFA. Both the outfits are designated as a terrorist organisation by the government.
LIW which has not updated its donation details since 2011 claims that it had received Euro 30,000 from CORDAID in 2011. “Significantly, the LIW is funded by the Dutch Ministry of Development Cooperation. The LIW has in the past hosted several seminars where NDFB and ULFA activists were invited,” the R&AW said.
LIW is also funded by the European Union which has come under the scanner of Indian agencies for planning to fund projects linked with CORDAID, which, Intelligence Bureau (IB) says, is planning to bring down the development projects in the Northeast. Interestingly, CORDAID receives grants from the Dutch government. IB says CORDAID plans to sabotage oil drilling projects in three districts of Manipur, big dams in Arunachal Pradesh and uranium mining projects in Meghalaya. In order to achieve its goal, CORDAID is also routing funds through two NGOs, Chindu and Swadhikar to “Manipur Coalition on Extractives” which includes Rural Women for Upliftment Society (RWUS) and Centre for Organisation Research and Education (CORE). CORDAID also financed a programme to increase women participation in decision-making in Manipur by spending `1 .67 crore in 2013-2014.
“There are reports of serious violations by Manipur-based NGOs and in 2012 at least 125 NGOs’ FCRA licence to receive foreign aid was cancelled. Many NGOs based in Netherlands are said to have been maintaining close ties with anti-India group and specific reports have been received by the government,” R&AW officials said.
In March 2013, CORDAID officer Eelco De Groot who earlier worked with Dutch government was denied visa by the agencies as IB had warned about his nefarious plan, and a lookout circular was issued against Groot. Groot wanted to organise meeting of NGOs in Manipur to mobilise activists against oil exploration in the state. But the visa denial did not deter CORDAID which managed to fly at least eight Northeastern NGOs to Bangkok in April-May last year to attend a meeting the matters of which related to oil extraction and the manner of activism to be organised against the oil drilling.
IB, which has been constantly monitoring the activities of Dutch government-funded NGOs, has warned that these groups are shifting focus from human rights in Kashmir to the twin issues—violence against women and prevention of extractive industries in the Northeastern region. According to intelligence agencies, the aim is to raise the oil and uranium extraction at international forum. Stephanie Joubert, CORDAID nodal officer for India named the project ‘Women in Extractives in North East India’ so that the matter could be raised at all UN and EU forums on women. The CORDAID plan is to use Article 1 of the International Convent on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of 1966 and the UN Declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples of 2007 to build pressure on the Indian government.