Major human rights NGO Amnesty International has said it was forced to halt its India operations for the time being because of the Narendra Modi-led government’s subjugation for their human rights activism on some of the nation’s sensitive issues.
As per reports, the Indian government’s mandates came down on the international NGO that forced the organization to lay off its staff and its bank accounts were stalled.
All of Amnesty’s research works, and ongoing campaign was bought to a ‘grinding halt’ as per the NGO.
The Guardian noted, India’s enforcement directorate froze the NGO’s bank accounts after they published two articles highly critical of the Narendra Modi-led government’s human rights records.
Amnesty says the Indian government’s “incessant witch-hunt” by the home affairs ministry came following a two-years-long harassment campaign bringing the organization’s operations to a ‘grinding halt.’
“We are facing a rather unprecedented situation in India. Amnesty International India has been facing an onslaught of attacks, bullying, and harassment by the government in a very systematic manner,” Amnesty’s senior director of research, advocacy and policy Rajat Khosla told the BBC.
“This is all down to the human rights work that we were doing and the government not wanting to answer questions we raised, whether it’s in terms of our investigations into the Delhi riots, or the silencing of voices in Jammu and Kashmir.”
However, the Indian government on Tuesday has rebutted the claims by saying, Amnesty’s claims were “unfortunate, exaggerated and far from the truth”.
According to the Indian government, the NGO has broken laws circumventing foreign donations. In a statement, the Ministry of Home Affairs said: “India, by law does not allow interference in domestic political debates by entities funded by foreign donations.”
Amnesty’s offices in different Indian cities have been raided in the last two years by different government watchdogs like the Enforcement Directorate and the Central Bureau of Investigation.
Amnesty has published a timeline of the number of events where the Indian government interfered in its work and disrupted its operations.
However, the organization has denied the allegations saying: “Amnesty International India stands in full compliance with all applicable Indian and international laws.”
“The fact that the Government is now portraying this lawful fundraising model as money-laundering is evidence that the overbroad legal framework is maliciously activated when human rights activists and groups challenge the government’s grave inactions and excesses,” Amnesty said.
Amnesty’s allegations over an Indian government that tries to censor dissent via ‘laws’ and mandates come at a time when voices of criticisms on the Narendra Modi government has left a dense trail behind in this year alone.
This is not the first time dissents of the Bharatiya Janata Party had to face off a harsh dictation from the government in the form of draconian terrorism laws.
The March 2020 killing of Muslims in Delhi by Hindu nationalists, the decade-long row in the nation’s Jammu and Kashmir region that took an ugly turn this year are among the many evident incidents that shaped the current criticism on the government’s far-right stance.
“It is unfortunate to learn that Amnesty has to halt its India operations and let go of all their staff. Greenpeace India extends its solidarity with Amnesty India and its staff during this tough phase,” another international NGO Greenpeace said in a statement.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a Tweet: “Indian authorities have frozen the bank accounts of Amnesty International’s India office, forcing it to halt operations. This crackdown on @AIIndia is yet more evidence that PM Modi’s government is failing to uphold freedom of speech and association.”
Greenpeace has also been a victim of office raids by the Indian government in the past. Amnesty International will continue to fight its legal procedure to get back their operations rights.