New rule 'solely for the purpose of hitting minority-run organisations,' says Christian leader

Published 19 September 2019  |  

Under the new Foreign Contribution Registration Rules announced by Home Minister Amith Shah, members of foreign-funded NGOs receiving grants must file an affidavit declaring that they will not involve in any kind of religious conversions or create communal tension and disharmony.

NGOs are required to act in accordance with the Foreigners Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) and report to the government upon receiving funds from foreign countries with value up to 1 lakh.

According to 2010 FCRA, only senior NGO officials or applicants or director-level persons seeking authorisation to receive foreign funds were required to submit a declaration. Now all members of the NGOs seeking foreign contribution are required to give this declaration under oath through an affidavit.

President of the Global Council of Indian Christians, Sajan K George told AsiaNews that "These new modifications will reignite fears that NGOs will be selectively targeted and their FCRA registration canceled and their bank accounts frozen."

"Every organisation whose goals can be interpreted in the broadest sense of sectarian discord, or with accusations of conversion or as a simple 'violation' will be included."

The Christian leader noted that in Jharkhand where BJP is the ruling party, the Home Department tried to revoke the license of 96 local NGOs in 2016. "A large number of the associations on the list are run by Christian missionaries or financed by agencies supported by the Church in Jharkhand, such as schools, colleges, hospitals and dispensaries in rural areas," he explained.

Currently, there are 13,000 active NGOs in the country receiving foreign funds. George feels "Transparency in the functioning of NGOs is important and essential, but these new changes seem to be made solely for the purpose of hitting minority-run organisations."

He said far-right groups make accusations of religious conversions without evidence or fabricate it. They are the ones who foster sectarian tensions and discord with the spectre of forced conversion to Christianity.

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