‘Possibly, our campaigns have made the right impact and raised the right questions, which is making several stakeholders uncomfortable,’ Samit Aich, Greenpeace India’s executive director, tells A Ganesh Nadar/Rediff.com
Troubles, it seems, do not seem to be stopping for Greenpeace India. Weeks after its activist Priya Pillai was offloaded from a plane and disallowed from travelling abroad, as the government feared the NGO paints a negative picture of India, comes the news of its bank accounts being frozen and its registration to receive funds from overseas suspended.
In an email interview with Rediff.com’s A Ganesh Nadar, executive director of Greenpeace India, Samit Aich, image, below, reacts to the sudden decision.
How do you plan to respond to the show-cause notice asking you why your registration to receive funds from abroad should not be terminated?
When we see it, we will respond. So far we have got the news from the media, not the actual notice.
It is a trend we are seeing for a long time. It is a clear indication that they are targeting us regularly
Is it true that the Delhi high court had allowed you to access funds from Greenpeace International in January?
Yes, we got a favourable order after we petitioned the high court at that time. The order had said that the government’s action on Greenpeace was arbitrary, illegal and unconstitutional.
Does that mean that the current ban is for sources other than Greenpeace International?
I have no idea as I have not seen the actual order. (So) I cannot comment on that.
How much money have you received from supporters in India?
In the last financial year we got close to Rs 21 crores from our Indian supporters. That is almost 70 per cent of our total funds.
Why do you think the government has frozen all your bank accounts, as they may also contain money from within India?
It is a valid question. This also we are hearing from the media, I have not seen the order.
It is unfortunate, high-handed and heavy handed. It is very unfortunate for a democracy that is India.
Your activist Priya Pillai was not allowed to travel abroad, but that decision was struck down by the court. Is the government singling you out for some reason?
It certainly seems so. We are an organisation working for the environment in India. We run relevant campaigns which address environmental and human rights issues that are guaranteed by the Constitution of this country.
Possibly, our campaigns have made the right impact and raised the right questions, which is making several stakeholders uncomfortable.
Are you exploring legal options against the government’s action?
We will study the order and then move the court.
Do you have other options in mind?
We have been facing this situation for some time now. We will figure out other options as we move on as and when we require it.
How long has your organisation faced the government’s hostility?
Since June 2014, when the Intelligence Bureau reports were leaked, and it continues. Since then there has been a heightened trend of malicious attacks on Greenpeace.
Main image: A Greenpeace demonstration in New Delhi in July 2009. Photograph: Buddhika Weerasinghe/Reuters.