Greenpeace on Friday accused the Home Ministry of running an “intimidation campaign” against the NGO and asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take note of it, saying such actions tarnish India’s international standing as a country which respects free speech and democracy.

In an open letter from Executive Directors of Greenpeace India and US, hours before Mr. Modi’s speech at the United Nations on Friday, the NGO said these actions serve as a “distraction” and raise “serious questions” about the government’s commitment to democracy and environmental issues.

The letter also urged Mr. Modi to ask President Barack Obama to “reconsider” US administration’s recent actions which “significantly undermine” the fight against climate change.

“In the same spirit of constructive cooperation, may we also ask you to take note of the campaign of intimidation that the Indian Home Ministry is currently engaged in against Greenpeace India and other legitimate NGOs?

“The actions of some officials in the MHA and the resultant shrinking of the space for constructive dialogue have served to tarnish India’s international standing as a country that respects free speech and democracy.

“At a time when we need to focus instead on the imperatives of the environmental issues facing us all, these actions serve merely as a distraction and raise serious questions about your government’s commitment to democracy and to addressing environmental issues,” the letter, written by Greenpeace India’s Interim Executive Director Vinuta Gopal and Greenpeace US’s Executive Director Annie Leonard, said.

The letter also said that the UN Special Rapporteur had recently criticised India’s actions in suppressing civil society and “vilifying” voices of dissent.

The NGO alleged that over the last year, the Home Ministry had frozen Greenpeace India’s bank accounts, prevented its staff (including Indian citizens) from entering and leaving the country and cancelled the group’s license to receive donations from abroad.

“On the very eve of the Prime Minister’s address to the United Nations, the organisation’s primary bank account was frozen once again denying Greenpeace access to donations received directly from its Indian supporters,” it alleged.EOM