In a significant development, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has registered a case against a Chennai based NGO, Caruna Bal Vikas, for purportedly receiving crores of rupees from a Colorado-based donor, Compassion International, which it alleges was used to 'convert' people. The BJP government had barred Compassion International from funding Indian NGOs without the government's permission in May 2016.
After the decision by the government, some US lawmakers had requested India to reconsider its decision. The then US secretary of state John Kerry had visited India in 2017 and had tried to convince the then external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj to reassess the decision.
However, the Union Home Ministry back then had highlighted the violation of the law and stated that money given to Caruna Bal Vikas by Compassion International was being diverted for conversion activities to NGOs owing allegiance to the Methodist Church, Baptist Church, Salvation Army, Christian Missionary Society and Indian Pentecostal Church.
The FIR was registered last week, however, the CBI has not named compassion International as an accused in the report. In the FRI, the CBI has alleged that the NGO, which was registered under Foreign Contribution Registration Act (FCRA), “has invariably indulged in religious activities” despite stating the nature of association as economic, educational and social in its account of foreign contributions filed from financial years 2011-12 to 2014-15.
Home Ministry’s FCRA wing filed the complaint, alleging that Caruna Bal Vikas used a part of the foreign receipts for religious activities.
“Further, a special audit conducted by the Income Tax department also reveals that a part of foreign receipts has been used for religious activities by CBV. Further, CBV has, inter alia, declared its long term objective of ‘converting poor children into fulfilled Christian adults’, and thus engaged in religious activities including conversions to Christianity. Such activities have potential to disturb communal harmony and therefore,(are) in violation of FCRA, 2010,” CBI FIR states.
“As per IT department’s report, CBV utilized only 10% of foreign contribution for the purpose it was meant for, while the remaining 90% was diverted to 300 NGOs in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and other states. Some of the NGOs are not FCRA registered,” the FIR read further.
AMCPL is named as accused in CBI along with CBV. Both have been charged under criminal conspiracy and FCRA act. Furthermore, an email sent to Compassion International remains unanswered.