ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Greenpeace Activist

Peoples Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) condemns the union government for preventing Priya Pillai of Greenpeace (India) from travelling to London. Greenpeace came under scrutiny because of its support to Mahan Sangharsh Samiti, a grass-roots organisation challenging the coal mining licence for Mahan Coal, a joint venture of Essar and Hindalco (Aditya Birla group). What is ominous is that the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has purportedly stated that there is “no rule which allows restraining a citizen from travelling abroad....(because) he/she would express views in conflict with government’s policies” (TOI, 13 January 2015). So if this is the case, who ordered the “lookout circular”, and at whose behest? These are questions which remain unanswered. If, as the news reports suggest, the lookout circular was issued by the Intelligence Bureau (IB) which has no executive authority to issue them, or by the foreigners’ division of MHA without the knowledge of the home secretary, then this action against Pillai who had a valid visa shows how arbitrariness has come to define the working of agencies and divisions of MHA, tasked with “internal security”.

Starting with the IB’s report in June 2014 on foreign-funded non-governmental organisations (NGOs), a report which was begun under the United Progressive Alliance II government, matters reached new heights of fiction when the IB damned foreign-funded organisations like Greenpeace as well as non-funded organisations such as the People’s Union for Civil Liberties and accused them of crimes against the state, namely, “activities inimical to India’s economic interests”. The IB report has since then come in handy for corporate houses fighting legal battles against people’s struggles and social activists resisting these projects on sound environmental and livelihood concerns. And to damn them on the basis of the IB’s report which has no evidentiary value is, in fact, meant to target all kinds of support for people’s resistance. The IB’s argument that economic growth was being stalled due to mala fide activities of NGOs may be music to ears of corporate houses, who, ironically, are the biggest culprits as they violate laws through their forced and forged gram sabha resolutions for their projects.

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