BENGALURU – Prominent human rights group Amnesty India’s offices in Bengaluru and Delhi have been raided by the CBI over alleged violation of rules involving foreign funding. However, the group said it is being targeted for speaking out against human rights violation in the country.
“Over the past year, a pattern of harassment has emerged every time Amnesty India stands up and speaks out against human rights violations in India,” Amnesty said in a statement.
“Amnesty India stands in full compliance with Indian and international law. Our work in India, as elsewhere, is to uphold and fight for universal human rights. These are the same values that are enshrined in the Indian Constitution and flow from a long and rich Indian tradition of pluralism, tolerance, and dissent,” it added.
For the last few years, Amnesty India has been under the scanner of investigation agencies over alleged violation of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA). The human rights organisation’s Bengaluru office was raided by the Enforcement Directorate last year too.
In a statement, the Enforcement Directorate had alleged Amnesty International India bypassed the FCRA Act after it was denied permission from the Home Ministry.
Last year, the premises of another international NGO, Greenpeace, were also raided by the Enforcement Directorate, weeks before its move against Amnesty.
“This sort of action, trying to shut down Greenpeace and Amnesty within days of one another, doesn’t lead one to any other conclusion. I think this is an action in concert. I think this is aimed at something specific… the shutting down of free and open voices,” Amnesty’s Akaar Patel was quoted by NDTV as saying.
Over the years, the BJP-led central government has increased surveillance on many non-profit groups, cancelling or suspending licences on charges of misreporting of donations.
In 2015, the Ministry of Home Affairs had put the New York-based Ford Foundation on a watchlist and suspended environmental campaigner Greenpeace’s licence under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA).