Cool relations between Denmark and India have become even colder following a
report back to Delhi on statements by the Danish Minister for Development
Aid on how Danish aid should be distributed around the world.
It was on Oct. 10 that Development Aid Minister Christian Friis Bach (SocLib)
told Jyllands-Posten that where possible Denmark should “hand out rights
instead of food to help people to fight for their own rights through
demonstrations, campaigns, litigation or rights of access to public
Friis Bach went on to cite a case in India in which a group of citizens
introduced litigation against the government which claimed that 400 million
Indians did not get enough food, despite a Constitutional right to food.
Quoting government sources, the Indian Express (IE) newspaper, says that all
Indian intelligence agencies have since been instructed to ‘double their
surveillance on overseas funding to NGOs and civil liberties groups,’ in
particular naming the Danish Development Agency DANIDA.
IE says the move comes following a report home by India’s ambassador to
Denmark on Oct. 10 on Development Aid Minister Christian Friis Bach’s
statement, saying Denmark planned to ‘use Danish official development aid as
a tool to generate popular unrest in recipient countries’.
“Friis said that he wanted to promote more of such. He stated that whenever
possible, people should be helped to fight for their rights through
demonstrations, campaigns or litigation,” the Indian Express says quoting
from a letter from the Indian Ministry of External Affairs to the Home
Ministry in turn quoting the ambassador.
“This approach makes it desirable that a very close watch be kept on any
funding coming to Indian organisations or NGOs, including from the Danish
Development Agency (DANIDA),” the Indian Ministry of External Affairs is
quoted as saying.
Relations between Denmark and India have been more or less frozen since June
this year when a Danish High Court of Appeal upheld a decision not to
extradite a Danish national Niels Holck – also known in India as Kim Davy -
The court refused the extradition request, saying: “The Courts have found,
however, on the basis of a specific assessment of the conditions under which
Niels Holck may be expected to be detained after prospective extradition to
India, that there is a real risk that Niels Holck will be exposed to
treatment that is contrary to Article 3 of the Human Rights Convention,” the
India accuses Holck of being one of a group that dropped weapons near the town
of Purulia in West Bengal in 1995. Weapons, including Kalashnikovs, sniper
rifles and anti-tank weapons were dropped over Purulia on December 17, 1995
from a Latvian registered and crewed Antonov An-26 aircraft that had taken
off from Burgas in Bulgaria.
Purulia inhabitants contacted local police after finding some of the weapons,
by which time the aircraft had continued to Thailand. On its return it
entered Indian air space and was forced to land in Mumbai by Indian Air
Force jets, but Holck managed to escape capture.
Since the court decision Indian-Danish relations have been very low.
Politiken has asked for a comment from Development Minister Friis Bach on
India's reaction to his statement, but due to meetings he has not been
available for comment. His secretary Asser Rasmussen Berling, however, has
sent a response sent to the Indian Express.
“A number of independent Danish NGOs have been active in India for decades, in
close collaboration with Indian partners. Their activities, of course, take
place under the overall umbrella of Indian laws and regulations, including
the necessary agreements with the authorities. The Danish Government has no
plans to specifically increase support to NGOs active in India,” the
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