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Amnesty halt human right operations in India

30th Oct 2020
Amnesty halt human right operations in India

Amnesty International was forced to halt all campaigns in India including its coverage and research on the use of excessive force and torture in Kashmir.

(Photo: Faisal Khan/AA)

Nadine Osman

International human rights NGO Amnesty International says it was forced to close its offices in India on September 29, following a “two-year-long sustained campaign of harassment by the Indian Government” which culminated in the “shameful” freezing of its bank accounts in the country.The complete freezing of Amnesty’s bank accounts has forced Amnesty to let off staff and halt all its ongoing campaigns, research work and activities in India.

Among Amnesty’s focuses in the country, is research on human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir and a recent report on the Delhi riots in February which claimed the lives of at least 53 people, with a focus on the conduct of the Delhi police.

Amnesty’s Acting Secretary-General, Julie Verhaar, branded the Indian Government’s conduct, “an egregious and shameful act which forces us to cease the crucial human rights work.”
In a report released in August, the group said police in Delhi, committed human rights violations during deadly

religious riots between Hindus and Muslims in February. Rebutting the claims, the Delhi police told The Hindu newspaper that Amnesty’s report was “lopsided, biased and malicious”.

Earlier in August, on the first anniversary of the revocation of Indian-administered Kashmir’s special status, Amnesty had called for the release of all detained political leaders, activists and journalists, and for the resumption of high-speed internet services in the region.

In 2019, the watchdog testified before the US Foreign Affairs Committee during a hearing on human rights in South Asia, where it highlighted its findings on arbitrary detentions, and the use of excessive force and torture in Kashmir. In October 2018, Amnesty’s offices in Bangalore were raided by the Enforcement Directorate, which investigates financial crimes. Its accounts were frozen then too, but Amnesty says it was able to access them after seeking a court’s intervention.

In early 2019, the group says dozens of its donors were sent letters by the country’s income tax department. And later in the same year, Amnesty’s offices were raided again, this time by the Central Bureau of Investigation, based on a case registered by India’s home affairs ministry. The Government is yet to respond to the allegations.

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