India has cancelled Greenpeace International’s license to operate and gave the group 30 days to close down, citing financial fraud and falsification of data, the environment watchdog said Friday.
The group dismissed the charges and said it would challenge the decision in court.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has turned the spotlight on foreign charities since he took office last year, accusing some of trying to hamper projects on social and environmental grounds.
Last year, Modi government withdrew permission to Greenpeace to receive foreign funding, saying the money was used to block industrial projects.
Under the latest order issued by authorities in Tamil Nadu where Greenpeace is registered, the government said it had found that the organisation had violated the provisions of law by engaging in fraudulent dealings.
India began cracking down on foreign-funded charities last year after a government intelligence bureau report said economic growth was hurt when the groups rallied communities against polluting industries.
The report specifically criticized foreign-funded charities and groups for organizing public protests against nuclear power plants, uranium mines, coal-fired power plants, genetically modified crops and electronic waste.
It also accused the groups, including Greenpeace, Amnesty International and Action Aid, of providing reports “used to build a record against India and serve as tools for the strategic foreign policy interests of Western governments.”
Greenpeace denied any wrongdoing and said the closure was a “clumsy tactic” to silence dissent.
“This is an extension of the deep intolerance for differing viewpoints that sections of this government seem to harbour,” Vinuta Gopal, the interim executive director of Greenpeace, said in a statement.
A government official confirmed that the closure order had been issued on Wednesday but did not elaborate.
In recent months, the federal government has toughened rules governing charities and cancelled the registration of nearly 9,000 groups for failing to declare details of overseas donations.