New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today defended his government's crackdown on NGOs who receive foreign funds, saying "no action has been taken against the law and no patriotic citizen can object to it."
His comments in an interview to the Press Trust of India came on a day a court ordered the government to allow Greenpeace India to access its local bank accounts and receive domestic funds.
Last month, the government had barred the environmental organization from receiving foreign funds and had frozen seven of its bank accounts, alleging that it had "prejudicially affected the economic interest of the state". The group had under-reported foreign contributions and spent unaccounted money to obstruct development projects, the government alleges.
The Delhi High Court today allowed Greenpeace to gather domestic donations in two of the accounts frozen by the government, extending a lifeline to the environmental group that says it is facing the first forced shutdown of one of its global units.
The move against Greenpeace was part of a wider crackdown against international and domestic NGOs by the Modi government.
In January, Greenpeace campaigner Priya Pillai was stopped from taking a flight to London to speak to a committee of British Parliamentarians. The government had said she was promoting anti-development activities.
Greenpeace was granted partial reprieve after it told the court that it was left with no funds to pay wages to hundreds of staff across India.
The government says it found glaring holes in Greenpeace's balance sheet and suspended its financial operations for six months. The group rejects the allegations and moved court against Modi's government.
Greenpeace workers - who have campaigned against coal mines in forests, genetically modified crops, nuclear power and toxic waste management - said their activism did not hurt the country's economy and were determined to continue.