NGO funds behind Vizhinjam project stalemate, Sterlite shutdown: TN Governor 

“Nobody comes with a hungry stomach to these protests. There needs to be support,” says RN Ravi

Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi
Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi in a file photo

Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi, known for his politically loaded statements in the past, has alleged that “foreign funds and conspiracy” were behind the protests against Adani’s Vizhinjam port in Kerala and Vedanta Corporation’s Sterlite copper plant in Tamil Nadu. 

“Nobody comes with a hungry stomach to these protests. There needs to be support. And the money is traced to foreign countries,” he said while responding to questions during the programme ‘Think to Dare’ conducted inside Raj Bhavan on Thursday (April 6) for Civil Services aspirants.

Hundreds of students had gathered to get insights on how to crack the civil services exam, where Ravi delivered a talk and responded to questions later on. “These protests were ‘foreign funded,’ trying to undermine the growth of the country,” he said responding to a question raised by Deepak, one of the participating youngsters, on the issue of tightening of Foreign Contribution Regulation (FCRA). 

PFI, Other Media under scanner

In the cases of both Vizhinjam and Sterlite Industries, the Union government is conducting an inquiry over alleged conspiracies. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) is conducting a probe into the involvement of the People’s Front of India (PFI) in the Vizhinjam protests, while Delhi-based NGO The Other Media is being probed for allegedly misusing foreign funds in the anti-Sterlite protests. Ravi touched upon both these issues.

He said radicalisation is fanned through foreign funding. “PFI has wings across Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, which is a hunting ground for international terror organisation ISIS. There were protests against Vizhinjam port too, even though assurances were given that it won’t affect marine life or fishermen. The protests carried on. Those who were protesting were getting money from abroad,” he said.

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Yet, the TN Governor was cautious commenting on the anti-Sterlite protests given that 13 people were killed after a police shootout against unarmed protestors. “The entire protest (against the Sterlite plant) was foreign funded. Police firing that led to the loss of innocent lives is unfortunate. But it (the plant) served 40 per cent of our (nation’s) copper needs,” he said.

A country needs foreign funds but for constructive purposes Ravi said. “One-time foreign contributions are done without any registration at all. But ₹250 crore funds were pumped in every year for conversion purposes in the North-East alone,” he claimed. 

Ravi also took a dig at Amnesty International for receiving foreign funds to “create hurdles for India’s national progress.”