09/17/2019, 17.23
INDIA
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Home Minister to force NGOs to pledge not to engage in ‘religious conversions’

by Nirmala Carvalho

Under new Foreign Contribution Registration Rules, members of NGOs must make a notarised statement. For Sajan K George, the goal is to hit Christian minority organisations.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) – India’s Home Minister announced yesterday new, tighter rules to regulate the activities of foreign-funded NGOs.

Under the amendments to the Foreigners Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), people working for NGO must make a notarised statement saying that they will not get involved in religious conversions, nor promote sectarian discord.

For advocacy groups, the goal is to target the activities of Christians in favour of the poor and the marginalised.

“These new modifications will reignite fears that NGOs will be selectively targeted and their FCRA registration cancelled and their bank accounts frozen,” said Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians, speaking to AsiaNews.

“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,” he added.

Under the 2011 regulations, only NGO senior officials were required to submit an affidavit to have access to funds under FRCA rules. With the new Foreign Contribution Registration Rules (Second Amendment) Rules 2019, all members must present an affidavit on Rs 10 (US$ 0.14) stamp paper, certified by a notary public.

In Jharkhand, a State run by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the “Home Department tried to revoke the license of 96 local NGOs in 2016,” the GCIC president noted.

"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.

"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.

"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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