A group of 107 members of U.S Congress have written to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to temporarily lift the restrictions on American Christian charity Compassion International (CI) until a permanent solution can be found.
The Union government has ordered banks in India to stop processing wire transfers from CI to its Indian partners, bringing the charity’s operations to halt. CI supports 145000 children in India with donations raised in the U.S.
The U.S lawmakers said they were “long time supporters of U.S –India partnership” but the Indian government’s treatment of CI has “caused serious concern within the U.S Congress.”
“It is with this in mind that we write to express our deep concern over the lack of transparency and consistency in your government’s enforcement of the Foreign Contributions Regulations Act,” the members wrote.
The Indian government has put CI on a priority watch list, accusing it of carrying out religious conversion in the country. No case has been filed against the organisation. American lawmakers, most of them staunch supporters of India, have raised the issue with the Prime Minister’s Office earlier, but the Indian government has not budged.
The letter to the Home Minister has been organised by the Republican Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Ed Royce and Democrat Ranking Member Eliot Engel.
“As long time supporters of the U.S.-India partnership, we have worked diligently to deepen ties between our two countries. As the largest and oldest democracies in the world, India and the United States share bonds rooted in political pluralism and respect for the rule of law. It is with this in mind that we write to express our deep concern over the lack of transparency and consistency in your government’s enforcement of the Foreign Contributions Regulations Act.
The ongoing case of U.S.-based Compassion International, which will have harmful consequences for many Indian children, has caused serious concern within the U.S. Congress. As you may know, Compassion International has worked in India since 1968, and today, its programs support over 145,000 Indian children, providing critical tutoring, health and nutrition, and medical services,” they said in the letter to Mr. Singh.
The members of Congress said: “Tragically, Compassion will soon be forced to terminate its service to India after nearly 50 years of working in your country. We are writing because we believe the Ministry of Home Affairs has issued an inter-bank circular preventing all commercial banks in India from processing CI’s wire transfers without prior Ministry approval. As a result, Compassion is unable to process the funds it needs to continue, and will be forced to close its sponsorship programs on March 15th, to the detriment of the hundreds of thousands of children Compassion serves in India. Many of our constituents, who have built emotional attachments through years of building relationships with these kids, are devastated by this wrenching cutoff.”
‘Respect the Indian law’
Requesting Mr. Singh’s urgent attention into the matter, the U.S lawmakers said: “We want to be clear with you that we expect all American entities operating within India to respect India’s laws, including Compassion. Having seen the important poverty alleviation work being done by CI, it is our sincere hope that this situation can be resolved quickly by your issuing a temporary reprieve. This would allow Compassion International to process their wire transfers and keep their programs serving the Indian people operating until a more permanent solution can be found in accord with India’s laws.”
John Prabhudoss, president of Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations said in statement that the CI programme “helps break the cycle of poverty and indignity these children have experienced.”
“We believe that this action by Modi government against Christian aid agencies is an attempt by the political-Hinduism to hijack the rich religious traditions of religious Hinduism and the people of India,” he said. “The hardline approach of the Hindu nationalist government under Modi has the potential to cause serious damage to the US-India relationship,” said Mr. Prabhudoss. The Hindu