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14 Jan 2015

PUDR condemns the Union Government for preventing Ms. Priya Pillai of Greenpeace (India) from travelling to London. Greenpeace came under scrutiny because of its support to Mahan Sangharsh Samiti, a grassroots organisation challenging coal mining license for Mahan Coal Ltd, a joint venture of Essar and Hindalco (Aditya Birla group). What is ominous is that the Home Ministry has purportedly stated that there is "no rule which allows restraining a citizen from travelling abroad....(because) he/she would express views in conflict with government's policies." (TOI, 13/01/2015)]. So if this is the case who ordered the 'lookout circular', and at whose behest? These are questions which remain unanswered. If, as the news reports suggest, that the 'lookout circular' was issued by the Intelligence Bureau (IB) which has no executive authority to issue them, or by the Foreigners division of Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) without the knowledge of the Home Secretary then, this action against Ms. Pillai who had a valid visa shows how arbitrariness has come to define the working of agencies and divisions of MHA, tasked with 'internal security'.

Starting with the IB's report in June 2014, on foreign funded NGOs, a report which was begun under UPA II, reached new heights of fiction when the IB damned foreign funded organisations like Greenpeace as well as non-funded organisations such as PUCL and accused them of crimes against the State, namely "activities inimical to India's economic interests". The IB report has since then come in handy for corporate houses fighting legal battles against people's struggles and social activists resisting these projects on sound environmental and livelihood concerns. And to damn them on the basis of IB's report which has no evidentiary value is, infact, meant to target all kinds of support for people's resistance. The IB's argument that economic  growth was being stalled due to malafide activities of NGOs may be music to ears of corporate houses,who, ironically, are the biggest culprits as they violate laws through their forced and forged gram sabha resolutions for their projects. 

PUDR condemns the action against Ms. Pillai as it is part of the growing attacks on activists and movements which are at the forefront in resisting regressive laws and provisions pertaining to people's access to and control over resources as well to those concerning workers' rights. PUDR appeals to the public to be alert to such illegal and unconstitutional activities of agencies/divisions of MHA which seeks to silence dissent in favour of corporate led economic growth, which, ironically seeks to attract foreign capital investments, something which is both contested and resisted by Adivasis and peasantry across the country. 

Sharmila Purkayastha and Megha Bahl

(Secretaries, PUDR)