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Anti-nuclear activists call IB report on NGOs a ‘cock and bull story’

Five anti-nuclear activists who have been named in the recent Intelligence Bureau (IB) report that claims that foreign-funded NGOs are having a ‘negative impact’ on India’s economy today rejected the charge that they had received foreign funds.

Describing the IB report as a "cock and bull story", Praful Bidwai, a senior columnist and founder member of the Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace (CNDP), said the report was based on "false allegations and on a series of innuendos that try to establish guilt by mere association". Bidwai was speaking at a press conference. The IB report, he said, was “alarmist” and was nothing but “scare-mongering.”

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

CNDP is one of the anti-nuclear movements that find mention in the 21-page IB report that was submitted to the Prime Minister on 3 June.

"CNDP, of which Achin (Vinaik) and I are founder members, takes no money at all from foreign sources, corporate sources or government sources. We are entirely funded by our own individual contributions. We hold meetings in different cities and we bear the travel of expenses on ourselves," said Bidwai.

The IB report claims that a ‘superior network’ of foreign funded NGOs were creating "obstacles in India’s energy plans" by supporting agitations against nuclear power plants, uranium mines, coal-fired power plants and mega industrial projects in different parts of the country.

Likening the IB report to ‘witch-hunt’, CNDP founder member Vinaik, who recently retired as professor of International Relations from Delhi University, said "We are concerned that the ground is being prepared, by whom we cannot say, to oppose and discredit a whole range of popular movements by targeting NGOs that are providing support to such struggles and resistances. We are fearful that this is a kind of witch-hunt with longer term implications to repress all kinds of popular struggles."

The "quality" of the IB report also came in for a lot of attack from the anti-nuclear activists.

"If these are the kinds of inputs from the Intelligence Bureau based on which India is going to be governed, God save this country. It is absolute conspiracy theory without any basis," said retired IAS officer and power policy expert MG Devashayam, who has been involved in protests against nuclear plants in Kudankulam and Fatehabad.

Calling for the IB report to be placed in Parliament and be debated on the floor of the House, the former Director General of Tripura Police KS Subramanian, who worked in the Intelligence Bureau five years, said that it was "intriguing" that the IB had been authorised to write such a report.

"The job of the IB is to deal with subjects like terrorism, sabotage, espionage, counter-intelligence and so on... I don’t know who authorised them to write it," said Subramanian.

Former Navy Chief L Ramdas and SP Udayakumar, convener of the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy, addressing the press conference via Skype, questioned the selective manner in which the IB report had been leaked to the press.

"How did this report that was filed by a top intelligence agency in the country and submitted to the topmost authority, the PMO, get leaked? Who leaked this report?" asked Udayakumar.

The IB report, he said, had sent out the wrong message to the youth by discrediting democratic struggles. "When people like us are discredited and dishonoured, the younger generation will not believe in democratic means of opposition and may take to violence," said Udayakumar.

The anti-nuclear activist who has been leading the struggle against the nuclear plant in Kudankulam also said that he would take the IB to court for jeopardising the safety and security of his family.

"This report affects me personally. I am consulting with my lawyers about safeguarding my dignity and honour and protecting the security interests of me and my family members. I will take IB to legal task," he said.