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

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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.

Amnesty International has halted its operations in India and said it had to let go of its staff after its accounts were frozen earlier this month as part of what it called a “witch-hunt” by the government over its adverse reports.

The government, however, says the global rights watchdog has been receiving foreign funds illegally and that it never registered under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act.

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; its recent reports had raised questions on alleged rights violations during the February Delhi riots and in Jammu and Kashmir after the abrogation of Article 370.

“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 and 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.

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The India Wire Team

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