Amnesty International has decided to shut its India offices after the Enforcement Directorate’s latest move to freeze its accounts. The agency termed this move as the government’s witch-hunt over unfounded and motivated allegations.
Amnesty International India (AI 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. The ED, following an FIR by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), filed on November 5, 2019, on charges of an alleged violation of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA), had initiated a separate probe last year. The ED has now converted the preliminary inquiry into an ECIR (the equivalent of an FIR) alleging money laundering charges and froze all of AI India’s bank accounts.
Amnesty said the complete freezing of AI India’s bank accounts by the Government of India, which it came to know on September 10, brings all the work being done by the organization to a grinding halt. The move comes a month after the AI India accused the Delhi Police of complicity in the riots that erupted in the capital in February this year.
Avinash Kumar, Executive Director, AI India, said the government’s aggressive pressure on the organisation in the last two years is not accidental. He said the constant harassment by government agencies including the ED is a result of AI’s unequivocal calls for transparency in the government, more recently for the accountability of the Delhi Police and the Government of India regarding the grave human rights violations in the Delhi riots and in Jammu and Kashmir.
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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.