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India’s Intelligence Bureau targets civil society groups

A report by India’s internal intelligence agency, the Intelligence Bureau (IB), targets 22 civil society groups opposing GMOs, nuclear power plants, coal-fired power plants, mines and hydro-power projects.

The report accuses the activists of working on behalf of foreign powers to subvert economic development in India.

The Times of India reports, “Civil society activists named in the leaked intelligence report have described the charges against them as a ‘figment of the IB’s imagination’, while alleging that the document was deliberately leaked to discredit opposition and set the stage for the government to fast-track environmental clearances without following due process.”

According to the ‘leaked’ report, Greenpeace India is leading a “massive effort to take down India’s coal-fired power plant and coal mining activity.” NDTV reports, “After accusing Greenpeace of hurting economic progress by campaigning against power projects and mining, the Intelligence Bureau, in a new report, says the NGO’s clearance to collect funds from abroad should be cancelled. The Intelligence Bureau, which has described Greenpeace as ‘a threat to national economic security’, says that the organization’s compliance with tax rules should also be checked.”

The IB report also says, “A significant number of Indian NGOs funded by donors based in US, UK, Germany and Netherlands have been noticed to be using people-centric issues to create an environment, which lends itself to stalling development projects.”

The People’s Union for Civil Liberties has described the Intelligence Bureau report as an attempt to “intimidate, slander, throttle and terrorize the voice of various citizens’ groups, NGOs and individuals” who raise issues relating to human right violations.

Activists in Canada will recall that in 2012 then Natural Resources minister Joe Oliver described those opposed to the Northern Gateway tar sands pipeline as “radical groups” who seek “to hijack our regulatory system to achieve their radical ideological agenda.” He also stated, “Their goal is to stop any major project no matter what the cost to Canadian families in lost jobs and economic growth. No forestry. No mining. No oil. No gas. No more hydro-electric dams.” And he claimed we seek to attract “jet-setting” celebrities and receive funding from “foreign special interest groups”.

And just last month, the Council of Canadians denounced the Harper government’s order to all federal departments to monitor all political demonstrations across the country. We said that rather pursuing this ‘big brother’ surveillance and criminalization of social justice activism, the federal government should respond to the concerns being expressed including the pollution of water from fracking, violations of Indigenous rights, and worsening climate change from the reckless pursuit of oil and gas extraction.