U-turn by Home Ministry on activist case


Jan 13, 2015: After a blame-game, the Union Home Ministry on Tuesday did a u-turn on the offloading of London-bound GreenPeace activist Priya Pillai and supported the Intelligence Bureau (IB) action of issuing a Look Out Circular (LOC) against her.

Sources cited “national security considerations” and purchase of Pillai’s ticket by the UK-arm of Greenpeace as the reasons for the issuance of LOC by the IB, which was initially contested by the Union Home Ministry saying the agency has no authority to issue such circulars.

Pillai, a senior campaigner with GreenPeace India, was to interact with British MPs on January 14 on “violations of human rights and environmental norms by Essar in Mahan coal mine areas”.

On Monday, top officials of the Home Ministry questioned the need for issuing an LOC against Pillai and IB’s authority in doing so. Though the incident took place on Sunday, Home Secretary Anil Goswami on Monday claimed that he did not have details about the incident and will be seeking a report.

Reversing its stand on Tuesday, sources said as per guidelines issued by the Home Ministry in 2010, an officer in the rank of Assistant Director in the IB is authorised to issue LOC for any individual based on inputs received against the person.

Interestingly, the whole of Monday, the Ministry was not clarifying whether the IB had the authority to issue an LOC.

Sources said LOC was issued on January 9, two days prior to her scheduled departure. One of the reasons cited was UK chapter of GreenPeace paying for Pillai’s ticket, which the authorities claimed violated the rules of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA).

Greenpeace India has to seek permission from RBI before receiving any foreign contribution following an order of the Home Ministry last year freezing the NGO’s funds over its campaign against corporates engaged in coal mining. Greenpeace India challenged the order in the Delhi High Court and the next hearing is on January 20.

Purchase of air ticket by the Greenpeace UK for someone working for its India chapter is amounting to receiving funds from abroad, sources said, adding no permission had been sought from the RBI in this case.

Asked about the ticket issue, Pillai told Deccan Herald the authorities are passing the buck. “They are raising trivial issues and coming up with several reasons two days after the incident. Tell us the real reasons,” she said.

Questions have also been raised in activist circles about authorities citing “national security considerations” to restrict some one’s movement.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Jan 14, 2015)

ALSO READ: Mystery over offloading of activist



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  1. Trackback: Mystery over offloading of activist | searching for blue pencil

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