Not for the first time, the global environmental NGO, Greenpeace, is facing the heat from the Indian government. In a move that the organisation has called an effort to "muzzle democratic dissent", the Enforcement Directorate has conducted searches in its offices in Bengaluru and other establishments associated with it and frozen its accounts.
Investigators suspect that the environmental organisation is receiving foreign funding. However, Greenpeace has denied the charges, stating that it is "wholly funded by local citizens of India".
Speaking to NDTV, Greenpeace India's country director Kshithij Urs said, "The Enforcement Directorate came without a notice or a warrant. We are concerned that if our individual list of donors is investigated, it would amount to harassment... This harassment must stop," he said.
Enforcement Directorate sources have told NDTV that Greenpeace incorporated a commercial entity called DDIIPL in 2016 and used it to draw foreign investment. Greenpeace has denied the charges and said it had hired an organisation to raise funds and that company has received foreign investment.
"We have outsourced fund-raising to them. They raise funds by reaching out to individuals. They even stand on the streets to raise funds. But those who want to donate, give directly to Greenpeace. There is no via-media," Mr Urs said.
After the visit by Enforcement Directorate officials last Friday, Greenpeace released a statement.
"This seems to be part of a larger design to muzzle democratic dissent in the country. We do not have anything to hide and are ready to provide the government authorities with financial details as required. At the same time we will reserve the right to constitutionally challenge attempts to malign our very existence as an independent environmental organisation," the statement added.
This is only the latest incident in Greenpeace's tussle with the government. In 2015, Greenpeace activist Priya Pillai was prevented from leaving India for a meeting in the United Kingdom. The same year, the government froze several of Greenpeace's bank accounts and later went on to cancel its license to receive international funds.
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