A well-known non-profit organization, Amnesty International India’s work after an eight-year stint has come to a ‘grinding halt’. This was announced by the NGO in a statement which has decided to shut its operations in the country. The decision, which will see close to 150 employees lose their jobs, came after the recent move by the Enforcement Directorate to freeze the organization’s accounts.
“The organisation has been compelled to let go of staff in India and pause all its ongoing campaign and research work. This is latest in the incessant witch-hunt of human rights organizations by the Government of India over unfounded and motivated allegations,” AI said in its statement.
In July, last year, the Enforcement Directorate had served a show-cause notice for alleged contravention of funding to the tune of Rs 51.72 crore. Although the Foreign Contribution Act, 2010 or FCRA law, whose provisions were invoked by the CBI in its case, is not listed in the schedule of predicate offences under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, Section 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code was invoked. And since section 120-B of the IPC is invoked as an alleged offence in the CBI FIR, it enables the ED to initiate a money-laundering investigation.
AI has been in the government’s hair on many occasions. recently, it was working on 5 crucial projects related to business and human rights, individuals at risk, gender-based violence, human rights education, and access to justice in Jammu and Kashmir.
It first ran into trouble in 2016, when during an event held as a part of a campaign based on the report “Denied: Failures in accountability for human rights violations by security force personnel in Jammu and Kashmir”, students from the right-wing group Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) had created a ruckus.
Latest trouble came from two exhaustive reports on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir and the riots in Northeast Delhi. On August 5, 2020, marking the first anniversary of the dilution of Article 370 of the Constitution of India, the organisation released an update on the situation of human rights in Jammu and Kashmir. And within days, on August 28, 2020, six-months after the riots in Delhi, AI India released an investigative brief on the complicity of Delhi police in the violence, which claimed the lives of at least 53 people, mostly from the minority Muslim community.