The Ministry of External Affairs on Thursday rejected allegations that it had unfairly shut down United States-based NGO Compassion International, after a New York Times report had claimed there were religious reasons for the crack down. The United States State Department had expressed concern about the action against the global children’s aid organisation and said it would raise the matter with New Delhi.
However, the MEA said it would not discuss the matter with the US in public, only adding, “Any NGO, foreign or Indian, is to operate in India, or for that matter anywhere else in the world, within the laws of the country,” according to The Times of India. MEA spokesperson Gopal Baglay also insisted that the government’s action against the NGO were not guided by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
President and CEO of Compassion International Santiago Mellado had told Christianity Today earlier in March that the government had changed the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010, to regulate the functioning of NGOs “it disagrees with philosophically”. He had also alleged that a RSS activist in Washington DC had approached the charity for back-channel negotiations. RSS media head Manmohan Vaidya said the any claims that there was a back-channel negotiator were “totally unfair and false”.
In March last year, the Home Ministry had listed Compassion International under the “prior permission” category of the FCRA, which prohibits it from receiving foreign funding without government approval. The charity had been accused of trying to convert people to follow Christianity. In December, the ministry had refused to reconsider its decision despite appeals made by the US authorities.