The government will take strict action against non-governmental organisations that seek to use foreign funding to change the country’s demography, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.

The home minister made the statement while addressing the House on action taken by the government to combat substance abuse. He said that several religious organisations such as the Chinmaya Mission, Ramkrishna Mission, Art of Living, Brahmakumaris and the Sant Nirankari Mission were engaged in weaning people away from drug abuse.

“They have no reason to worry, and they have no problems with the FCRA [Foreign Contribution Regulation Act] either,” Shah said. “However, if some NGOs want to use FCRA to change the country’s demography, this cannot be allowed. Strict action will be taken against such organisations.”

The home minister said that while there are some NGOs that want to make India healthier, some seek to cause damage to society. “The Union government cannot adopt the same policy for these two categories,” he asserted. “Those who do not comply with the FCRA law will be dealt with sternly, and no mercy will be shown to them.”

Shah said that a situation in which states are not aware of sources of foreign funding in their territories will not be tolerated. “This happened enough during your [United Progressive Alliance] government’s tenure,” he said. “This is the Narendra Modi government, and we will not allow even a penny that is aimed at ending the country.”

Registration under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act is mandatory to receive foreign funds. Legal amendments made in 2020 to the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act allow the government to extend tighter control over the utilisation of foreign funds by organisations.

In the recent past, NGOs have alleged that the Centre was using the FCRA law to target organisations they do not agree with.

Oxfam India Trust, Indian Youth Centres Trust, Jamia Millia Islamia and Tuberculosis Association of India were among the NGOs whose registrations had become void in January.

In April, the ministry cancelled the FCRA registration of the human rights organisation Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative. But the organisation said that most of the allegations made by the government were vague. It said it had responded to every alleged irregularity pointed out by the Centre before suspending the organisation’s foreign fund licence.

Don’t politicise powers granted to BSF: Shah

Meanwhile, Shah responded to concerns by some Opposition parties about the extension of the Border Security Force’s jurisdiction in West Bengal, Punjab and Assam. He alleged that those who were politicising the matter were supporting drug trafficking.

“When more powers were given to BSF to secure our borders, some states said that we have taken away their rights,” Shah told the Lok Sabha “...If we do not give powers to our forces, how will they work? We should have faith in our agencies.”

In October 2021, the Centre had extended the BSF’s area of operation in the three states to 50 kilometres from the international border, from the earlier jurisdiction of 15 kilometres.

In the areas demarcated by the Centre, the BSF has powers of arrest, search and seizure at par with the police. The BSF, however, does not have the power to investigate crimes and the force has to hand over suspects or accused persons to local authorities.