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Amnesty International halts India operations

Amnesty International halts India operations
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New Delhi, Sep 29: Amnesty International has halted its operations in India, alleging that its accounts were frozen earlier this month as part of a crackdown by the government and it had to let go of most of its staff, NDTV reported.

The government says the global rights watchdog never registered under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, which is required for any foreign funding.

In a press statement, Amnesty said “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.”

The organisation said it had been compelled to let go of staff in India and pause all its ongoing campaign and research work.

“This is the latest in the incessant witch-hunt of human rights organizations by the government of India over unfounded and motivated allegations,” said Amnesty, claiming that it had complied with all Indian and international laws.

Amnesty linked all government action to its reports critical of the government, raising questions on rights violations during the February Delhi riots and after the end of special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

“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 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.

Amnesty is being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate over alleged irregularities in receiving foreign funds.

According to the home ministry, the organization “got money into India through the FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) route,” which is not allowed in the case of non-profits.

In 2017, the Enforcement Directorate froze their accounts, after which Amnesty approached the court and won some reprieve. But their accounts were sealed. Last year, the CBI also registered a case against them. According to the complaint, Amnesty International UK allegedly remitted ₹ 10 crore to Amnesty India entities as FDI without the ministry’s approval.

“Another ₹ 26 crore has been remitted to Amnesty (India) primarily from UK-based entities without the home ministry’s approval. All such receipts have subsequently been expended on Amnesty’s NGO activities in India in violation of the FCRA,” the complaint states.



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