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Saturday, July 03, 2010

NGOs in CHT under surveillance

Courtesy: The Daily Star, Dhaka, Saturday, July 3, 2010
Front Page

NGOs in CHT under surveillance

Alpha Arzu

Non-governmental organisations operating in the Chittagong Hill Tracts and Cox's Bazaar have been kept under surveillance of the country's intelligence agencies.

The home affairs ministry recently instructed intelligence agencies to monitor their activities, sources at the ministry said.

Around 36 foreign-funded NGOs are working in the hill districts, Bandarban, Khagrachari and Rangamati, while 18 others in Cox's Bazar. A few of them are under constant watch of the intelligence agencies as the NGO Affairs Bureau informed the home ministry about their unauthorized activities, sources said.

Kamal Uddin Ahmed, joint secretary (political) of the ministry, told The Daily Star last week that there are allegations against some local NGOs and international NGOs that they are involved in subversive activities.

A few NGOs even published features on their websites damaging the country's reputation, he added.

He also said that if the ministry does not find any instances of wrongdoing, it will let the NGOs continue their activities.

Sources said the February chaos in Khagrachhari was instigated by some NGOs. The NGOs encouraged locals to take a stance against the government resulting in political instability in the area.

Some intelligence organisations have already informed the government about the NGOs involved in anti-government activities.

The government has taken the issue seriously, and it will take stern action against the NGOs, said Kamal.

Deputy Director of the bureau Muhammad Ibrahim said the ministry had taken some information about a few NGOs from the organisation two months back, but he was not aware of the government's move regarding the NGOs.

He refused to disclose the names of the NGOs and their activities.

However, a source in the bureau said the ministry collected the data relating to the NGOs' involvement in militancy and anti-state activities.

The bureau officials also said the intelligence agencies are even vigilant about some NGOs' activities in other parts of the country.

A high official of the home affairs ministry said, “We read a feature on the website of an NGO, which says Rohingyas in Bangladesh are passing their days under the sky and starving for three months”.

The statement is not correct, and it tarnishes the image of the country, he noted.

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