Defend the Defenders: Human Rights Law Network

IB’s report on NGOs farcical, say rights activists

Five civil rights activists involved in anti-nuclear movements across the country and named in the Intelligence Bureau report on “Concerted Efforts by Select Foreign Funded NGOs to ‘take down’ Indian development projects” on Friday described the report as “farcical” and aimed at “scare-mongering” to “de-legitimise” genuine people’s struggles.

While three of them — Achin Vinayak, Praful Bidwai and M.G. Devasahayam — jointly addressed a press conference in the capital, two others — former Navy Chief L. Ramdas and S.P. Udayakumar, who spearheaded the agitation against the Kundankulam Nuclear Power Project — joined them via Skype to challenge the IB report.

According to the report, anti-nuclear activism, coupled with protests against coal mining and the green lobby, had stalled development and, in turn, slowed down the growth of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2-3 per cent.

Mr. Udayakumar said the IB had put his life and that of his family at risk with the kind of allegations that it had levelled in the report. He threatened to take the IB to “legal task” for sullying his name.

Mr. Bidwai said: “If a senior IB official can concoct dangerous stuff, this should worry all of us because if this is the way the IB is going to work then national security is under threat. The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) has a more credible figure of a seven per cent loss to the GDP because of environmental destruction.” Pointing to the Environment Ministry’s decision to fast-track clearances for projects, he said the report appeared to have been officially leaked to create a climate against NGOs and nip any resistance.

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