US envoy Richard Verma called for a dialogue with the Narendra Modi government to discuss the recent clampdown on Greenpeace India and the Ford Foundation.
“I think we should (have a dialogue). It is for Indian officials to raise their concerns and I certainly am raising my concerns with them,” Verma told news channel CNN-IBN in an interview.
The government in April suspended NGO Greenpeace India’s license and froze its accounts on the charge of working against the economic interest of the country. The Ford Foundation was also put on a watchlist for giving funds to activist Teesta Setalvad’s organisations premised on the contention that the money was used in anti-national activities.
Following the two successive crackdowns, the US sought a clarification from New Delhi for limiting “a necessary and critical debate within Indian society”.
Asked about his earlier comment of potential “chilling effect” that India could face due to its action curbing activism in the country, Verma sought to explain that he spoke in a “spirit of partnership, friendship” between the two countries that have common political values, including their belief in civil society.
Taking little notice of union minister Kiren Rijiju’s observation on Verma’s remark, the US envoy said that the bilateral relations between the two countries were “strong” at this point.
“We have had discussions on civil nuclear, defense co-production, intellectual property, WTO. We were only stuck on those issues that we were not talking about. We can and must have a conversation about this,” he added.
Rijiju on Thursday had said, “one should not overreact on a subject where government has not gone out of (the) provisions of law”.