India orders Greenpeace to shut down over fraud

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks during the Inaugural Session of the India-Africa Forum Summit in New Delhi, India, October 29, 2015. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India has canceled Greenpeace International’s license to operate and gave the group 30 days to close down, citing financial fraud and falsification of data, the environment watchdog said on Friday.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has turned the spotlight on foreign charities since he took office last year, accusing some of trying to hamper projects on social and environmental grounds.

Last year, Modi government withdrew permission to Greenpeace to receive foreign funding, saying the money was used to block industrial projects.

Under the latest order issued by authorities in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu where Greenpeace is registered, the government said it had found that the organization had violated the provisions of law by engaging in fraudulent dealings.

Greenpeace denied any wrongdoing and said the closure was a “clumsy tactic” to silence dissent.

“This is an extension of the deep intolerance for differing viewpoints that sections of this government seem to harbor,” Vinuta Gopal, the interim executive director of Greenpeace, said in a statement.

A government official confirmed that the closure order had been issued on Wednesday but did not elaborate.

Greenpeace India has campaigned against coal mines in forests, genetically modified crops, nuclear power and toxic waste management.

In recent months the federal government has toughened rules governing charities and canceled the registration of nearly 9,000 groups for failing to declare details of overseas donations.

Reporting by Rupam Jain Nair; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani, Robert Birsel