Special Investigation: Naxals take hawala route to terror
Anita Sinha / CNN-IBN
Bodhgaya (Bihar): Hawala is an informal money transfer system which operates below the financial systems radar. But it's not a terrorist activity only that the hawala route funds, but also the Naxal activities. Who is funding the Maoists and their expanding armed guerrilla movement?
There is now speculation that a number of NGOs in Bihar are funding the training of Maoist guerrillas. Twenty-two NGOs in Gaya district have been issued a show-cause notice for their Maoist links.
Says District Magistrate of Gaya, Jitendra Srivastava, "If it comes during the course of inquiry that Naxals are involved or they are running the NGOs that are funding guerrilla training, then it's a matter of huge concern. Even if Naxals are beneficiaries of NGOs, then it's a matter of concern for us."
Junior officials on the ground confirm the fears.
Says Block Social Welfare Officer, Chandrika Prasad, "A lot of NGOs are involved with Naxal elements. We even know that many of the NGO workers are Maoists themselves."
Prasad's statement was in fact proven true when Dwarko Sundrani, who runs an NGO, Samanvaya Ashram in Bodhgaya admitted to the links.
"Naxals often approach us for money, but we provide them food, clothing and shelter as we believe in the concept of hriday parivartan (change of heart). They wanted me to build tube-wells in their village. We got it done," says Sundrani.
A Bihar government document lists many NGOs suspected of diverting funds to Maoists. Most are funded by visiting tourists or international donor agencies.
There are records of Western Union transactions through which NGOS in Gaya received funds which are sending alarm bells ringing through the administration.
CNN-IBN's SIT met with a Western Union money transfer agent, Shahbuddin who admitted that a lot of NGOs were in collusion with Maoists.
"Almost all the NGOs are corrupt and have got links with Maoists. The funds are, indeed, being siphoned off to Naxals," he told the SIT.
Donations run into crores, often made in cash. Audits are rare, so naturally the state government is concerned.
Says Bihar Home Secretary, Afzal Amanullah, "If that's true, then there is another source of worry because these people are getting cash which is not accountable and for which they don't have to do anything. Even if they give receipts, who is going to come back and check on them? That's very, very scary."
Many NGOs are also known to employ Maoists or their family members. They also act as mediators.
Says the owner of an NGO, Avidya Vimukti Sansthan, Sanjay Kumar, "Sometimes, we have had to act as middlemen or negotiators between the district administration and the Maoists."
Such close links now have the Bihar government worried.
"Intelligence agencies did report such things being channelised. Now, we have got to warn foreigners and do a lot of planning to stop this worrisome syndrome from spreading. The whole ministry has to work in tandem to turn out this tap," says Amanullah.
Adds DIG, Magadh Range, Umesh Kumar Singh, "If the money goes in bulk to them, it'll be quite threatening to the internal security of the nation."
Today in Gaya, the state machinery has been sidelined, and the word of Maoists is law, and the crores lying with local NGOs are being used to fund more Naxal violence.