Amnesty International halts India operations, accuses Centre of ‘witch-hunt’

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In a significant development, famous human rights organisation Amnesty International India on Tuesday (September 29) announced that it is closing down its operations in India due to government’s ‘witch-hunt’ and ‘harassment’. Amnesty International India noted that it decided to shut down its operations in India after it was “compelled to let go off staff in India” and halt all its research work as the government froze all its bank accounts.

In a statement, the organisation called the government’s decision to its bank accounts a witch-hunt “over unfounded and motivated allegations”.

“The complete freezing of Amnesty International India’s bank accounts by the government of India, which it came to know on 10 September, brings all the work being done by the organization to a grinding halt. This is the latest in the incessant witch-hunt of human rights organizations by the Government of India over unfounded and motivated allegations,” it said.

It may be recalled that few weeks ago Amnesty International India had accused accused the Delhi police of complicity in the riots that erupted in the national capital in February this year.

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Avinash Kumar, Executive Director, Amnesty International India said the government’s ‘harassment’ of the organisation in the last two years 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 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,” he said.

In August, an investigation conducted by the organisation alleged that there was a “denial of medical services to victims, failure to rescue them, excessive and arbitrary use of force on protesters and differential treatment of assemblies, no response to multiple calls leaving the survivors to fend for themselves over the period of six days of violence in Delhi.”

Notably, the Enforcement Directorate is probing Amnesty over alleged irregularities in receiving foreign funds. According to Union Home Ministry, Amnesty “got money into India through the FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) route,” which is not allowed in the case of non-profits.

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