From when I wrote my last blog post on Relief India Trust, there have been consistent efforts to take my site down through dubious legal means, the latest of which is a defamation legal notice against me by the Relief India Trust folks. Here’s a factsheet:
- I received a mail on 9th February, 2013, and also a ton of calls earlier to this date asking me to donate to a charity named Relief India Trust. The people on the call were extremely pushy and while initially I thought it was because of the urgency of the case, I quickly became suspicious. When I started asking them about their NGO registration number, their 80G registration etc. they hung up the phone and stopped responding.
- I wrote the blog on 13th of February, and it immediately started accumulating comments from lots of folks who had similar experiences.
- I forgot about all of this until somebody else at the organisation called me up again. I replied that I knew this was a scam, and they hung up immediately.
- In June, I received a call from a journalist working for The Sunday Guardian asking me further details about the Trust. She also visited their office and informed me that there weren’t any kids there, “only a lady who gave us a long brief about the ngo and so forth”.
- August 5, I received an email from a person claiming to be from RIT and claiming that somebody else was calling on their behalf. I don’t understand how this can be the case because they ask us to donate by going to the same website. Unfortunately I was so disgusted that I did not reply to this message. That mail is available here.
- In September, another person emailed me saying they had received a take down notice.
- In Nov of 2013, I noticed that my blog was not loading. When I contacted my hosting provider (wordpress.com), they said my site was under a DDOS attack. Please see my conversation with my hosting provider.
- In the Jan of 2014, they filed a DMCA complaint against me with my hosting provider and took down my site until I could file the counter notice. As many of you would know, DMCA notices are used to report copyright violation, so this was definitely a tactic to take my site down.
- The latest action from their end is this threatening legal notice I received this week.
India’s defamation laws aren’t exactly the most progressive, but in the interests of not letting such dubious “Trusts” get away with anything, I asked around on Twitter for any lawyers willing to provide some legal advice. Anoop reminded me about my school senior Aju who now runs MyLaw.net and he in turn connected me to Apar of Advani & Co who is now representing me. My initial interactions with Apar were through Twitter, and he’s been a pleasure to talk to. Find Apar’s response here, wherein he manages to quote Arkell vs. Pressdam 🙂
Will keep you folks updated.
Update (October 27, 2014): I haven’t heard back from them after the notice was replied to, but wanted to update all of you on certain new developments thanks to comments on this post:
- Read the official AIIMS policy on donation & abide by it.
- Relief India Trust now has a listing on the NGO registry, to reach this page yourself, go to the NGO home page and put in 0081349 on the home page. This however, doesn’t mean a thing, as we should ask for audited financial statements for authenticity. Anybody can start an NGO.
- Please find uploaded here a list of fake documents they send across when asked for proof. Note that most of these are outdated, and some are outright photoshopped.
Update (Nov 6, 2014): Sanjeev, one of the commenters on the original post has provided a far more detailed info of the operations in his comment.