Amnesty International India joins the list of human rights individuals and organizations facing the harassment of the Indian government aimed at suppressing all forms of dissent. On September 10, Amnesty International India found that all of its bank accounts were frozen by the Enforcement Directorate, hence bringing a sudden halt to all the work being done by the human rights organization.
The organization was first attacked on October 25 in 2018, when the Enforcement Directorate conducted a 10 hour-long raid at its office premises, not allowing any of the employees to leave. The residence of a Director of the organization was also raided. Most of the documents demanded during the “raid” were already in the public domain or filled with the concerned government authorities, hence showing that the raid was an attempt to harass and intimidate the organization.
After this, bank accounts were also frozen by the ED, hence forcing Amnesty International India to let go of a number of their staff, adversely affecting the functioning of the organization. Meanwhile propaganda platforms conducted a media smear campaign against them.
Throughout 2019, the organization continued to face attacks aimed at impeding upon their work. First, the Department of Income Tax started sending investigative letters to more than 30 small regular donors, adversely affecting their fundraising campaigns.
In June 2019, a report on the misuse and abuse of the Public Safety Act in Jammu and Kashmir by Amnesty International India, was denied the permission to be launched at a press conference in Srinagar, and had to be released digitally.
After Amnesty International testified at the US Congressional hearing on the situation of human rights in South Asia with specific focus on Jammu and Kashmir since the abrogation of Article 370, rumours began to circulate about the impending arrest of the top officials of the organization, and the CBI conducted raids at the office and at the residence of one of the directors again.
The raids were conducted on the basis of a First Information Report filed by the Ministry of Home Affairs over unsubstantiated allegations of suspected violations of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act. It suggested investigations be launched under other laws like Prevention of Money Laundering Act. This is in spite of the fact that Amnesty International India operates through a distinct model of raising funds domestically.
On April 15, two days after Amnesty International India called on the UP government to stop its intimidation of journalists using repressive laws during a pandemic, the Cyber Crime Police Station of Lucknow notified Twitter to furnish information about the organization’s twitter account.
According to a statement on the Amnesty International India’s website, the recent attempt at harassment and intimidation has been triggered by the organization’s activities to recognize the human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir on August 5, and to point out the complicity of the Delhi police in the anti-Muslim riots through an investigative brief released on August 28.
Feeling threatened by the questions raised by this organization, amongst many others, the Government has resorted to intimidation and harassment tactics. This unlawful freezing of its bank accounts without any substantial evidence has put a complete stop to the organization’s activities.