The Indian arm of Greenpeace has accused the government in New Delhi of trying to “strangle” it after the group received a notice threatening the cancellation of its registration—a move that could force the environmental NGO to shutdown.
The notice was issued in June by local authorities in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, where Greenpeace India is registered. It alleges breaches of local regulations, something the environmental group denies, labeling the charges “perversely framed and maliciously designed” and pointing its finger at the national government led by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“We are a legitimate organization that has been operating legally in India for over 14 years,” one of the group’s top officials, Vinuta Gopal, said in a statement. “This absurd notice lacks legal basis and instead appears to have been sent at the request of the Ministry of Home Affairs [in New Delhi], which has been trying to silence us for more than year without success.”
The notice is the latest in a string of recent challenges for the group. It was barred from receiving any foreign funding earlier this year, when the Modi government suspended its license, accusing it of violating regulations and spending unaccounted-for funds to obstruct industrial projects. The move in April brought the group to the brink of closure, with the loss of as many as 340 jobs, as it struggled to pay employees. It received a lifeline in late May, when a court allowed the group to collect domestic donations.
Greenpeace India’s travails come against the backdrop of a broader regulatory crackdown on NGOs by the Modi government, which has cancelled the registration of thousands of groups for violating laws governing the receipt of foreign funds, according the Economic Times.
“We are a legal Indian organization staffed by Indians working for a better India for all and any charge of foreign control is false. The Ministry of Home Affairs is trying to strangle us in bureaucracy, preventing our work,” Gopal told TIME, saying Greepeace had written to local authorities in Tamil Nadu to ask for more information about the June notice, but is yet to hear back.
Gopal said the group would soon mount a legal challenge against the notice.