Students from St Joseph's College stand up for Greenpeace India!Today is another bad day for Indian democracy. And there have been many of these in the recent months.

I have been working for Greenpeace India for 14 years, and in that time I’ve been involved in dozens of campaigns to protect India’s environment and the rights of people. You can find many of those campaign stories on our histories page.

Today, I received a letter that the Greenpeace India’s society registration has been cancelled. We have been told to pass a resolution to wind our operations up. We will of course challenge this in court, but clearly the crackdown by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on civil society groups like Greenpeace India continues.

Their allegations and especially those of 'fraud' are completely ridiculous. The Registrar of Society has failed to understand basic financial reporting and has confused foreign donations with Indian, which are reported separately per legal requirements. This was pointed out to them but they have ignored our clarification – read the documents and make your own mind up.

You can read the full text of the cancellation notification here (pdf) – and our earlier response (pdf) to the registrar of society’s case.

I don’t understand why the MHA wants to close down an organisation like ours. We campaign to keep our food free of pesticides and GMOs, to save our forests, to clean our air from pollution, and to promote sustainable energy. I can’t believe that I have to go to court AGAIN to defend our right to exist! It is a worrying distraction from what I would rather be doing – campaigning for a green and peaceful future for my daughter and for the country she belongs to.

06 November 2015 Greenpeace volunteers in Delhi stand up for democracy and free speech! India Gate

India is the world's largest democracy but the fundamental right of Indians to speak out is under threat. Other civil society organisations like INSAF, the Sabrang Trust, Citizens for Justice and Peace, and People’s Watch are also under attack. It’s not just about us – this is an orchestrated attack on our democratic space and our right to have a dissenting opinion.

The story of the attacks on Greenpeace India started with the alleged secret Intelligence report. This led to the cancellation of our FCRA status and the court’s ruling to restore it. Then my friend and collague, Priya Pillai, was offloaded from her flight and the courts ruled in her favour. The judge even stated that disagreeing with the government does not make one anti-national. The MHA then froze our bank accounts, including the donations of over 77,000 Indian citizens, and again the court ruled in our favour granting us a lifeline to continue our work. Now they have cancelled our society registration and told us to pass a resolution to wind our operations up, so again we’ll be going back to court.

In the recent months as the interim Executive Director, in the midst of all this, I have been proud to launch new campaigns to tackle dangerous air pollution, to launch the SolarRise movement and to support my colleagues in Indonesia highlight their struggle with the forest fires. Our fight for India’s environment and rights has never stopped.

Ban Ki-moon quote civil society is the oxygen of democracySo this is not over. I am determined to go back to court, to protect our rights to campaign for a future we believe in and for the space for others to speak their mind without fear of repression. I also invite you to tell the story of this crackdown on India civil society to the world – please sign our new petition to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to ask him to lend his voice in support of free speech in India.

Thank you

Vinuta Gopal
(Interim co-Executive Director)
Greenpeace India