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Amnesty Shuts India Operations, Accuses Govt of ‘Witch-Hunt’ and ‘Harassment’

Human rights organisation Amnesty International India on Tuesday announced that it will be shutting its operations in the country after it was “compelled to let go off staff in India” and halt all its research work as all its bank accounts have been frozen.

In a statement, the organisation called the government’s move to freeze 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.

The move comes a month after the organisation accused the Delhi police of complicity in the riots that broke out the national capital in February.

Avinash Kumar, Executive Director, Amnesty International India said the continuing crackdown on the organisation 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,” 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.”

Amnesty is being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate over alleged irregularities in receiving foreign funds. According to the home ministry, the human rights organisation “got money into India through the FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) route,” which is not allowed in the case of non-profits.

In October 2019, The CBI had registered a case against the organisation and three of its associate organisations for alleged violation of laws pertaining to Rs 36 crore foreign fundings. In a statement back then, Amnesty India had pointed at a pattern of “harassment” that emerged every time it “stood up and spoke out against human rights violations” in the country.

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