New Delhi: Amnesty International has finally halted its operations in India after its bank accounts were completely freezed by the government bringing all its work to a grinding halt. In a statement released on Tuesday, the organisation said it was forced to let go of its staff in India and pause all its ongoing campaign and research work. Also Read: PM Modi Reemphasizes Benefits Of Farm Bills, Says ‘Those Opposing Now Realise They Can’t Earn Black Money’
It noted that it is latest in the incessant witch-hunt of human rights organizations by the government over unfounded and motivated allegations. The government has accused the organisation of receiving foreign funds illegally and that it never registered under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act. The global organisation has linked government action to its reports and remained critical of its role. In fact in its recent reports, the organisation had raised questions on alleged rights violations during the February Delhi riots and in Jammu and Kashmir after the abrogation of Article 370.
“The fact that the government is now portraying this lawful fundraising model as money-laundering is evidence that the overbroad legal framework is maliciously activated when human rights activists and groups challenge the government’s grave inactions and excesses,” said Amnesty.
“The continuing crackdown on Amnesty International India over the last two years and the complete freezing of bank accounts is not accidental. The constant harassment by government agencies including the Enforcement Directorate is a result of our unequivocal calls for transparency in the government, more recently for accountability of the Delhi police and the Government of India regarding the grave human rights violations in the Delhi riots and Jammu & Kashmir. For a movement that has done nothing but raise its voices against injustice, this latest attack is akin to freezing dissent,” said Avinash Kumar, Executive Director of Amnesty International India.
What was its latest conflict with the government?
The organisation has said that in its latest report, on 28 August 2020, marking the six-month anniversary of the riots that took place in North-East Delhi in February 2020, Amnesty International India released an investigative brief on the complicity of Delhi police in the riots which claimed the lives of at least 53 people, mostly from the minority Muslim community.
The release of the two publications has provided fresh impetus to the establishment to harass and intimidate Amnesty International India through its investigative agencies, it has said. This was followed by freezing its bank accounts on September 10.
October 2018 Raids:
On 25 October 2018, Amnesty International India endured a 10-hour-long raid as a group of officers from the Enforcement Directorate (ED), a financial investigation agency under the Ministry of Finance, entered its premises and locked the gates behind them. Most of the information and documents that were demanded during the search were already available in the public domain or filed with the relevant government authorities. The residence of a Director was also raided.
150 people may lose jobs:
As per report in Business Today, the winding down of the India operations is expected to result in close to 150 employees losing their jobs.