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MHA recommends CBI inquiry against activist Harsh Mander’s Aman Biradari NGO for FCRA violations

The MHA's recommendations were sent to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to conduct an inquiry against Mander's NGO Aman Biradari as it finds violations of the FCRA

Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has recommended a CBI inquiry against IAS-turned-social activist Harsh Mander’s Aman Biradari NGO for alleged Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) violations, government sources said on Monday.

Mander was among the most ubiquitous faces in the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in Delhi. He has also been called a Congress sympathiser, for having worked closely with Sonia Gandhi from 2010 to 2012 in the National Advisory Committee, considered “the most powerful club in the Manmohan Singh government”.

The MHA’s recommendations were sent to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to conduct an inquiry against Mander’s NGO Aman Biradari as it finds violations of the FCRA, said a government source, requesting anonymity.

Aman Biradari, on its website, has mentioned that it is a people’s campaign for a secular, peaceful, just and humane world. It aims to attain the same through the building of local level institutions at village and district levels, comprising mainly the youth and women, from diverse backgrounds and faiths in order to strengthen mutual bonds of tolerance, fraternity, respect and peace between people of different religions, caste and language groups.

Attune to the true spirit of our nation, the website reads, Aman Biradari through its activities aims to inculcate and promote equal citizenship, justice, communal harmony, peace, and the celebration of our social and cultural diversity within the very grassroots of our society.

The MHA’s move came almost two years after the Economic Offence Wing of Delhi Police in 2021 had also registered a case under sections 406,409,420,120B of the Indian Penal Code against Mander’s other NGO Centre for Equity Studies (CES) and its officials where Mander is the director. The FIR was filed for criminal breach of trust.

The Delhi Police FIR was based on an inspection report of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), which had revealed financial irregularities in shelter homes established by the NGO. A case of child sexual abuse was also alleged in one of the shelter homes.

The Center for Equity Studies was funding the shelter homes in question, the Rainbow Foundation of India (RFI), the Association for Rural and Urban Needy (ARUN-India), the ‘Dil Se Campaign’ of Can Assist Society and Aman Biradari.

Mander has been actively involved in anti-CAA protests in Delhi and had quit as an IAS officer after the 2002 Gujarat riots.

For 17 years since Mander resigned from the Indian Administrative Service, he has made it his mission to fight for issues like the dignity of persons with disabilities, the right to food, the protection of Adivasi and Dalit women, and justice for victims of lynching.