As many as 107 lawmakers from the United States have asked New Delhi to grant “temporary reprieve” to global children’s aid organisation Compassion International, after it announced that it was shutting down its India operations. Led by the chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, Congressman Ed Royce, the group wrote to Home Affairs Minister Rajnath Singh and asked him to look into the matter.
The letter, dated March 21, said the American NGO, which provides tuition, nutrition and medical services to more than 1.45 lakh children, had been forced to end its programme in India. Shutting down Compassion International will be detrimental to the thousands of children the NGO serves in India, the letter read.
“It is our sincere hope that this situation can be resolved quickly by your issuing a temporary reprieve,” they lawmakers said, adding that all American entities are expected to respect Indian laws. A temporary relief will allow the programme to continue in India till a more permanent solution can be found, they suggested.
The delegation also expressed concern over the alleged “lack of transparency and consistency” in the enforcement of the Foreign Contributions Regulations Act in India. “We believe the Ministry of Home Affairs has issued an inter-bank circular, preventing all commercial banks in India from processing CI’s wire transfers without prior ministry approval,” it said.
In March last year, the 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.
Earlier in March, President and CEO of Compassion International Santiago Mellado had told Christianity Today that the government had changed the foreign funding Act in 2011 to regulate the functioning of NGOs “it disagrees with philosophically”.