“Instead of protecting human rights, as it vowed to do, the government is now targeting the people who fight for them,” said Aakar Patel, Amnesty India’s head.

ED freezes Amnesty Indias bank accounts NGO calls raid assault on civil society
news ED Raid Friday, October 26, 2018 - 11:58

The Enforcement Directorate (ED), which conducted a search and seizure operation at Amnesty lndia’s office in Bengaluru on Thursday, has stated that the NGO had violated the Foreign Transaction (Regulation) Act.

The ED has frozen Amnesty’s bank accounts since the search operation began on Thursday afternoon. In a statement released to the media, the ED said that Amnesty International India Foundation Trust (AIIFT) had received foreign funds worth Rs 36 crore through a foreign commercial route.

“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 says.

The Enforcement Directorate also said 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,” the statement adds.

The remaining Rs 26 crore was allegedly received in two other bank accounts of AIIPL as "consultancy services".

“The inwards remittances received by the AIIPL from overseas is in violation of FDI guidelines. In this background, searches are conducted at their Bengaluru office today and further investigation is in progress,” the ED statement reads.

Responding to the allegations by the Enforcement Directorate, Amnesty India issued a statement claiming that the organisation is being targeted by the government.

“Amnesty India’s bank accounts have been frozen by the Enforcement Directorate, effectively stopping our work. Amnesty India is thus 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 organizations like criminal enterprises”, said Aakar Patel, the Amnesty India’s head.

The organisation stated that they have not broken any law and have conformed with the national regulations. “As an organization committed to the rule of law, our operations in India have always conformed with our national regulations. The principles of transparency and accountability are at the heart of our work,” the Amnesty statement reads.

Around 1:30 pm on Thursday, officers with the Enforcement Directorate entered Amnesty International’s office in Bengaluru’s Indiranagar area. Amnesty’s staff was ordered to remain inside and their phones and laptops were shut down.

The Enforcement Directorate’s officers allegedly questioned Amnesty India’s chief regarding the relationship between Amnesty International India Pvt Ltd and Amnesty International India Foundation.

“Most of the documents asked for during the search were available in the public domain or were already filed with the relevant authorities. Details of our current structure, which was the focus of much of the questioning, have been available on our website since 2014,” Aakar Patel added.

Amnesty also claims 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 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.

“Our work in India, as elsewhere, is to uphold and fight for universal human rights. These are the same values that are enshrined in the Indian Constitution and flow from a long and rich Indian tradition of pluralism, tolerance and dissent,” Aakar Patel added.

He said that the “dark days of the Emergency was casting a shadow over India again” and that the government is targeting people who fight for human rights instead of fighting for the cause.

“We could not agree more with the Prime Minister when he says that periods of repression, like during the Emergency, have left a stain on India’s history. Sadly, those dark days are now casting a shadow over India again. Instead of protecting human rights, as it vowed to do, the government is now targeting the people who fight for them”, said Aakar Patel.

 

 

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