Greenpeace India has announced that Indian authorities have canceled its legal registration.
While the notice of cancellation came from the Registrar of Societies in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, where Greenpeace India is registered, the environmental group has indicated it believes the Ministry of Home Affairs is behind the move. In September, a High Court judge blocked a separate attempt by the ministry to cancel the organization's license to receive international funds under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, granting the organization an interim eight-week stay. The organization's license had been suspended and its bank accounts frozen since April.
The cancellation of the organization's legal registration is seen by many as the latest example of an ongoing government clampdown on foreign-based or -funded NGOs whose work it sees as opposed to its economic agenda. The crackdown began after a 2014 government intelligence bureau report criticized foreign-funded NGOs such as Greenpeace, Amnesty International, and Action Aid for organizing protests against industrial pollution and other environmental concerns and, according to the AP, for providing reports "used to build a record against India and serve as tools for the strategic foreign policy interests of Western governments."
Last April, the Ford Foundation also put millions of dollars in funding for Indian NGOs on hold after it was placed on a list of organizations prohibited from funding Indian nonprofits without government permission.
"This latest move marks an escalation in the Ministry of Home Affairs' ongoing attempt to silence Greenpeace India," the organization's interim executive director, Vinuta Gopal, said in a statement. "Without our legal registration, we won't be able to carry on with our work. The home ministry's clumsy tactics to suppress free speech and dissenting voices are turning into a major national and international embarrassment for this government. As Prime Minister Narendra Modi prepares to leave for a world tour spanning London, the G20, and crucial climate talks in Paris, his home minister's crackdown on free speech will only weaken India's hand at the international table."