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CBI raids Amnesty International’s India offices

Bengaluru/New Delhi, Nov 15 (IANS) The Central Bureau of Investigation on Friday raided human rights group Amnesty India’s offices in Bengaluru and Delhi after it registered a case of FCRA violation on the complaint of Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

CBI officials in Delhi said that the agency has registered a case on November 5 on a complaint received from the MHA against Amnesty International India Pvt. Ltd (AIIPL), Indians For Amnesty International Trust (IAIT), Amnesty International India Foundation Trust (AIIFT), Amnesty International South Asia Foundation (AISAF) and unknown others.

The official said that the searches – at three places in Bengaluru and one place in Delhi – were in connection with violation of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA).

The official said it was alleged that the provision of the FCRA 2010 and Indian Penal Code were contravened by Amnesty entities by receiving foreign contributions from Amnesty International UK through the AIIPL even though prior registration or permissions were denied to the AIIFT and other trusts under the FCRA.

“The CBI on Friday conducted searches at the offices of Amnesty International India Private Limited and Indians for Amnesty International Trust in Bengaluru and New Delhi,” said Amnesty India in a statement.

The international human rights campaigner said over the past year, it had been witnessing a pattern of harassment every time the NGO stands up and speaks out against human rights violations in India.

“Amnesty India stands in full compliance with Indian and international law. Our work in India, as elsewhere, is to uphold and fight for universal human rights,” Amnesty India said.

The organisation said it works to uphold values such as pluralism, tolerance and dissent, enshrined and guaranteed by the Constitution of India.

According to Amnesty, as many as four million Indians supported the NGO’s work in India in the past six years and one lakh people contributed financially.

“Our work in India, as elsewhere, is to uphold universal human rights and build a global movement of people who take injustice personally,” it added.

Nazia Erum, head of Amnesty India’s media and advocacy department, said the CBI asked for documents pertaining to multiple compliances, organisation structure and others.

About 15 CBI officers visited Amnesty office in Indiranagar, a posh locality near the central business district in Bengaluru.

“We gave the officers full support and cooperation, we answered their questions and they left around 5 p.m.,” said Erum about the eight-hour raid which started around 9 a.m.

In an Enforcement Directorate raid in October 2018, Amnesty’s accounts were frozen, leading up to the NGO sharply slashing its employees, Erum said.

Amnesty India is contesting a showcause notice the ED has served on it in 2019 in the court of law, Erum added.

Meanwhile, Amnesty India has appointed Avinash Kumar as the executive director, starting December 1. He will head Amnesty’s India operations, replacing Aakar Patel who completed a four-year term.

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