ED freezes bank accounts of Amnesty India; NGO says government instilling fear
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) froze the bank accounts of human rights organisation Amnesty International India on Thursday evening.
“AIIFT was denied the permission/registration under FCRA, 2010 by MHA. They resorted to bypass the FCRA Act by floating commercial entity in the name of Amnesty International India Pvt. Ltd (AIIPL),” the ED statement read. The agency also highlighted that out of the Rs 36 crore, AIIPL received Rs 10 crore as long term loans.
“This amount was immediately placed in FDs and another Indian entity, Indians for Amnesty International Trust (IAIT) had established an overdraft facility for Rs 14.25 crore keeping the said Rs 10 crore FD as collateral which means the receipt of FDI (foreign direct investment) by trust only,” ED said further.
Stating his point on the entire crackdown, Amnesty India’s Chief Aakar Patel said that the NGP is the latest target of the government’s assault on civil society in the country. The accounts of Greenpeace India were frozen earlier this month.
“Government authorities are increasingly treating human rights organisations like criminal enterprises,” Patel said adding that as an organisation committed to the rule of law, our operations in India have always conformed to our national regulations.
“The principles of transparency and accountability are at the heart of our work,” he added. Around Thursday afternoon, ED officials entered Amnesty International’s office in Bengaluru’s Indiranagar area and ordered all staff members to remain inside and their phones and laptops were shut down.
ED raid on Amnesty India shows a disturbing pattern of the government silencing organisations that question power. It is clear that the government wants to instill fear among Civil Society Organisations. #CrackdownOnAmnesty
— Amnesty India (@AIIndia) October 25, 2018
The NGO claims that that ahead of the raids, Indian authorities leaked a cache of their internal documents marked ‘secret’ that appear to cast Amnesty India’s operations as suspicious. Amnesty India also claims that over 40 lakh Indians have supported the organisation’s work over the last six years and around over one lakh people have contributed financially.
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