Wednesday, December 6, 2023

FCRA issue in UK Parliament: Will Boris Johnson answer?

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A discussion borne out of sheer ignorance ensued in the UK’s House of Lords after Lord Harries of Pentregarth on Thursday posed the question about representation to the Indian government regarding “blocking of overseas funds” for the Missionaries of Charity.

In response to the query, Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office), Lord Ahmad, said, “We are aware of some non-governmental organizations that have faced difficulty in India due to the use of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act by the Indian government, and that some have recently had applications to renew their foreign funding licenses rejected.” He then said that British officials have “discussed the issues” with the Indian government and that the British High Commission in India is monitoring the situation.

Seemingly unsatisfied by the response, Lord Harries of Pentregarth made a wildly unsubstantiated claim and said about the Indian government, “The rumour is it is continuing pressure from Hindu nationalism because people might come into contact with Christianity and eventually convert to it.”

It is noteworthy here that the FCRA registration of the Missionaries of Charity had expired, along with that of several other NGOs, and required renewal. According to an MHA official, the FCRA registration of 18,778 entities had expired between September 29, 2020, and September 31, 2021.

In December, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee had wrongfully claimed that the Union government had frozen “all bank accounts” of the Missionaries of Charity. Later in a statement issued by the Missionaries of Charity, the organisation had claimed that no such freeze was ordered by the Ministry of Home Affairs.

“We would like to clarify that the FCRA registration of Missionaries of Charity has been neither suspended nor cancelled. Further, there is no freeze ordered by the Ministry of Home Affairs on any of our bank accounts. We have been informed that our FCRA renewal application has not been approved. Therefore as a measure to ensure there is no lapse, we have asked our centres not to operate any of the FC accounts until the matter is resolved,” read the Missionaries of Charity statement.

Moreover, the FCRA registration of the organization was restored by the Ministry of Home Affairs on Saturday. Ministry sources cited by ANI said that the “necessary documents” required for the restoration were submitted by the Missionaries of Charity.

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