The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has reportedly recommended a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry against Harsh Mander‘s NGO, Aman Biradari, for allegedly violating the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA). According to anonymous government sources, the MHA sent the recommendation to the CBI after finding FCRA violations by the NGO.
Harsh Mander is a former Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer who turned social activist and became a prominent face in the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in Delhi. He has also been described as a Congress sympathizer, 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.
Aman Biradari, the NGO under scrutiny, describes itself as a people’s campaign for a secular, peaceful, just, and humane world. The organization aims to achieve this by building local level institutions at the village and district levels, primarily comprising youth and women from diverse backgrounds and faiths, to strengthen mutual bonds of tolerance, fraternity, respect, and peace between people of different religions, castes, and language groups. The NGO also seeks to promote equal citizenship, justice, communal harmony, peace, and the celebration of social and cultural diversity within the grassroots of society.
The MHA’s move to recommend a CBI inquiry against Aman Biradari comes almost two years after the Economic Offence Wing of the Delhi Police in 2021 registered a case against Mander’s other NGO, the Centre for Equity Studies (CES), and its officials, where Mander is the director. The FIR was filed under sections 406, 409, 420, and 120B of the Indian Penal Code for criminal breach of trust.
The Delhi Police’s FIR was based on an inspection report by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), which revealed financial irregularities in shelter homes established by NGOs funded by the Centre for Equity Studies, including 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. The NCPCR’s inspection report also alleged a case of child sexual abuse in one of the shelter homes.
Harsh Mander has been actively involved in fighting for various social causes for over 17 years since resigning from the IAS after the 2002 Gujarat riots. He has worked tirelessly to fight for the dignity of persons with disabilities, the right to food, the protection of Adivasi and Dalit women, and justice for victims of lynching. His activism has often placed him in the center of controversies and has led to criticism from various quarters.