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India: Medha Patkar and 11 others accused of “misuse of funds”

Wednesday 13 July 2022, by siawi3


Rule of Law

Medha Patkar and 11 others accused of “misuse of funds”

In recent months, more dissenters are being accused money-laundering


11 Jul 2022

Fund Scam

In yet another example of the regime harassing human rights defenders, Madhya Pradesh’s Barwani police have registered an FIR of “misuse of funds” against Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) leader Medha Patkar and 11 others. The 67-year-old activist has rubbished the accusations stating that the full accounts and fund audit were available.

As per syndicated news feed, Temla Bujurg villager Pritamraj Badole registered an FIR against the activists on July 9. In it he alleged that the Narmada Navnirman Abhiyan (NNA) trust misused funds meant for residential educational facilities to Narmada valley tribal students in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. As per the FIR, Badole said the funds worth ₹ 13.50 cr from various sources in the past 14 years were used for a “political and anti-national agenda”.

Aside from Patkar, activists named in the FIR are Parveen Rumi Jahangir, Vijaya Chouhan, Kailash Awasya, Mohan Patidar, Ashish Mandloi, Kewal Singh Vasave, Sanjay Joshi, Shyam Patil, Sunit SR, Noorji Padvi and Keshav Vasave.

District Superintendent of Police (SP) Deepak Kumar Shukla said that the complainant provided some documents but as the transactions detailed are old, an investigation will be carried out.

Meanwhile, Patkar said is yet to receive any information about the FIR itself. She alleged the complainant’s association with the RSS and ABVP and stressed that her organisation does not receive funds from abroad.

“The funds were used appropriately and the jiwanshalas being run at present have been there for the past three decades. The organisation has been involved in rehabilitation for decades. It has always given replies to such allegations with documents,” said Patkar. Further, she said that the allegation may also be a conspiracy to defame the organisation as the country goes through a debate on who is a “nationalist” and who is committing sedition. “Those who do the right thing by asking questions about the system are called anti-nationals. The public will decide,” she said.

Alt News Co-Founder Mohammed Zubair and rights activist, journalist Teesta Setalvad are among those people who are facing persecution by the government for standing up to a vindictive regime and asking tough questions. In the former’s case, Zubair recently got an interim bail from the Supreme Court in a case wherein he called three “religious leaders” – legally charged for putting up hate speech – as “hatemongers”. However, on July 9, Alt News announced that Zubair was slapped with another FIR for a fact-check.

According to the organisation, Zubair showed how a certain ‘news’ channel used a morphed picture during their broadcast. Earlier, Alt News itself was accused of receiving foreign funds like the NBA.

“This brazen and selective targeting of our colleague is being done so that journalists and media organisations become afraid of demanding accountability from the establishment… Zubair is being persecuted for fighting the rot in the system,” said Alt News.

Similarly, Setalvad was forcibly taken away to Ahmedabad by the Gujarat ATS on June 25 following the Supreme Court’s dismissal of the Zakia Jafri case. Setalvad along with former State DGP R B Sreekumar now faces trumped-up charges such as criminal conspiracy and forgery. Over the last few weeks, both journalists received overwhelming support. On July 8, legal luminaries, activists, academics, journalists and influential human rights groups showed support for Setalvad, including Patkar.

Like the other two, Patkar too is used to allegations against her and her organisations. She said she was ready to reply to all of them. Most recently, the Hindustan Times quoted the ANI as saying that Patkar was driven out of the Dhinkia village of Jagatsinghpur, Odisha when she tried to talk to locals. In reality, residents said that the police refused to let Patkar and her delegation speak to locals claiming that the groups would “disrupt peace”. The same was confirmed by the region’s anti-Jindal protesters as well.


Dhinkia: Three more anti-Jindal activists arrested by the police!
Free Teesta Setalvad: Now Bhubaneswar stands with Teesta
SC grants interim bail to Mohammed Zubair