Bengaluru: Enforcement Directorate Raids Amnesty India’s Office, Organisation Claims Govt Trying To Silence Them
On Thursday, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) raided the office of Amnesty International India in Bengaluru. Amnesty international came under the scanner of ED, just two weeks after it forayed into non-profit, global environmental NGO Greenpeace and other establishments associated.
The raid at Amnesty’s Bengaluru office began at 2 pm and continued for around 10 hours. ED in their statement has said that Amnesty International when turned down by the home ministry, resorted to bypassing the FCRA Act. The statement further noted that the organisation had established a floating commercial entity in the name of Amnesty International India Pvt. Ltd, which has received Rs. 36 crore in foreign funds, reported the NDTV.
The home ministry in August 2016, had ordered a “preliminary exercise” to examine whether Amnesty had the necessary approvals to do so.
The raid came after Amnesty International hosted a discussion on Kashmir, which received anti-Indian slogans. A sedition case was filed against Amnesty following a complaint by an Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) member. However, Amnesty had denied the accusations.
The Amnesty international came under ED’s scrutiny two years before, when ED suspected the human right organisation of violating rules under foreign funding, reported the Aljazeera.
Amnesty International Take on the raid
The organisation has called the raid an “attack by PM Modi”. In a statement published on their website, it said, “Our work in India, like everywhere else 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.”
Amnesty International India’s Executive Director, Aakar Patel in the statement further said, that it is a “disturbing pattern of silencing organisations that question power”. He also said that the “government authorities are increasingly treating human rights organisations like criminal enterprises.”
In the last two years, the government has raided many non-profitable organisations over the stringent law that regulates money received by non-profits from abroad.
According to the Hindustan Times, the ministry of home affairs said that the government had cancelled the registration of nearly 15,000 NGOs under FCRA since 2014.
The environmental organisation Greenpeace was also suspected for illegally receiving foreign funding, which it denied.
According to a report by The Hindu, in August, investigators (ED) started to look into issues related to the FCRA unit’s suspicion that Amnesty International-UK and other entities based in the UK have infused funds into Amnesty’s India through commercial channels. According to the ED, this is against the rules of the Foreign Exchange Management Act or FEMA rules. It also said that the amount of Rs 36 crore was received between May 2014 and August 2016 by the Amnesty. This amount was immediately placed in FDs.