The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) suspended the FCRA approval of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) in June this year, Bharti Jain reported for the Times of India on Monday. Apart from the CHRI, the FCRA approvals of 8 other NGOs were suspended this year.
The CHRI counts among its members retired Justice Madan Lokur of the Supreme Court. Madan Lokur is the same person who was appointed by the Mamata Banerjee government in West Bengal to head the commission to investigate the alleged Pegasus snoopgate.
Madan Lokur is an executive committee member of the CHRI. The CHRI has received huge contributions from the US Department of State (American Embassy), the British High Commission in New Delhi, the High Commission of Canada among others in 2021.
The purpose for the contributions from the US was “Advocacy and Outreach Programme for Detainees in North Eastern States of India”, for the UK it was “Research on Pace of Justice issues in India and their impact on Foreign National detainees and victims of crime” and the Canadian contribution was for “Reimbursement of Expenditure”.
Apart from them, the CHRI has also received contributions from the Kaleidoscope Diversity Trust, Friedrich Naumman Stiftung – Germany, The Hanns Seidel Foundation and others.
The NGO also has links to Siddharth Varadarajan, the founding editor of The Wire. One of the initiatives of the group is the South Asia Media Defenders Network (SAMDEN). The core members of SAMDEN include Bangladesh’s Mahfuz Anam of the Daily Star, Kanak Mani Dixit of Himal in Nepal, Salil Tripathi, chair of PEN’s unit on journalists in prison, Mrinal Pande, veteran editor and author, John Zubrzycki (a Sydney-based journalist, author specialising in South Asia), Siddharth Varadarajan, Founding Editor of The Wire, and Sanjoy Hazarika, former correspondent for the New York Times.
The appointment of Lokur as the head of West Bengal’s Pegasus Commission was made a month after CHRI’s FCRA approval was suspended. The MHA has also suspended the FCRA approval of certain evangelical organisations and Islamic charities.