Ranjana Bisht for BeyondHeadlines
INSAF organized a press conference at Press Club in Delhi. About the issue related to the freezing of the bank accounts of INSAF by the government. Against this suspension order more than 300 organisations, action groups and grassroots activists, journalists, writers stand in solidarity. The Home Ministry has stated that according to information available with the Government agencies, the foreign funding received by INSAF is likely to be ‘prejudicial to public interest’. But this is not true. INSAF is a network of more than 700 NGOs involved in grass roots activities and people’s struggles. INSAF was created, post-Babri Masjid demolition, so that public consciousness could be raised on issues related to communalism, globalization and divisive politics.
At the conference veteran social worker Anil Chaudhary said that freezing of bank account cannot stifle democratic voice of dissent. Our right to resistance against right wing politics and economics is guaranteed by constitution. The policies of international financial institutions like World Bank Group remain a threat to democracy and we will resist it in public interest. When the democratic practice is based on the prejudices about the public interest. How it can be a ground for suspension?
Prof Vanaik said, The double standard of the government should not be tolerated. It is in favour of foreign direct investment but on the other hand acting against the unification of resistance which is globally vibrant and gives meaning to democracy. After globalisation, globalisation of resistance has to stay here. It cannot be resisted.
Shabnam Hashmi said that if the suspension order is not withdrawn immediately, we will demonstrate before the residence of the Home Minister.
Speaking in the conference, INSAF general secretary Chitranjan Singh said that to understand this governmental action, we need to visit the FCRA, 1976 and the amendments done to it in 2010 as well as the Rules formulated in 2011. A look at this will expose the real intent of the government as well as its repressive politics in the garb of stopping/curbing foreign funding. The new amendments to the FCRA done in 2010, especially its Rule 3, are highly controversial and are very relevant in understanding the current context and controversy. It says that activities of any organization which habitually engages itself in or employs common methods of political action like Bandh or hartal (strike), Rasta Roko (stopping trafffic), Rail Roko (Stopping Trains) or Jail Bharo (fill up jails) in support of public causes will be deemed as political in nature even if it is not a political party. The government, of course, has reserved the right to define or designate those organizations which will fall in this category. Such organizations cannot be recipients of foreign funding Our bank accounts sealed by the govt in the name of political activities.
He further said that INSAF had challenged these very legal provisions on 5th August 2011 in the Delhi High Court but its writ petition was rejected on 16 September 2011. Subsequently, INSAF filed the same writ in the Supreme Court of India which was admitted. The Supreme Court has asked the Government to file a reply which it has not filed till date. It is interesting and ironic that while INSAF challenged the provisions of the FCRA which curb funding of organizations by designating their activities as political in nature.
The Government wants to rein in peoples struggles related to land, forests, water and for dignity going on all over India from Tamil Nadu to Kashmir. It also wants to curb all the basic facilities available to such organizations & individuals. INSAF has played an important role in people oriented struggles. Dose our fundamental right have any meaning today? Is there any democracy in this country or not? Why the government is snatching our rights in the name of political activities?
INSAF has been demanding to brought International Financial Institutions (IFIs) like World Bank Group under rigorous legislative scrutiny. In this regard it organized a Peoples Front Against IFIs during the 46th Annual Board of Governors’ Meeting (AGM) of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in Greater Noida, Delhi. Is it a coincidence that on May 2-5, 2013, the letter of suspension was received while the meeting of Peoples Front Against IFIs was underway. At this meeting several Members of Parliament came and expressed their support for making IFIs subservient to legislative will. Providing the reason for the suspension of the bank account wherein contributions are received under Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010, the letter of April 30, 2013. The letter was received on May 4, 2013. In doing so it withheld the information on the basis of which the suspension order has been issued.
At the conference a statement endorsed by more than 300 organisations, action groups and grassroots activists, journalists, writers etc. was also released. The statement expresses its solidarity with the stand of INSAF in asserting the constitutional right of every citizen of India to participate in governance, which includes the right to question, challenge and oppose the policies of the state through peaceful, non-violent and democratic means. Among signatories of the statement are Admiral Ramdas, Vasanth Kannabiran, Praful Bidwai, Ram Puniyani, Gautam Navlakha, Anand Teltumbde, Sandeep Pandey, Kalyani Menon sen, Henri Tiphagne, Saheli, Ashok Chaoudhury, Subhash Gatade, Saeed Baloch (Pakistan), Saroop Dhruv, Asad Zaidi, Bejwada Wilson, Toni Leino (Finland), Antonio Villavicencio (Ecuador), Amanul Haq (Bangladesh) and other distinguished persons and organisations of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Azerbaizan, Philippines, Thailand, Spain, Tajikistan, France, USA, Belgium, Canada, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Australia, Mangolia and kyrgystan.