Ex-Amnesty India Chief Aakar Patel stopped from flying out of Bengaluru over CBI notice

Aakar told TNM that he was stopped by immigration officials even though he had a court order releasing his passport specifically for this trip.
Aakar Patel file image
Aakar Patel file image
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Aakar Patel, the former chief of Amnesty International India, was on Wednesday, April 6, stopped from flying out of Bengaluru airport, as Immigration officials told him that there was a look out circular issued against him. Aakar was to fly out of Bengaluru’s Kempegowda International Airport on Wednesday morning to catch a flight from Bengaluru to Boston, but Immigration officials stopped him saying that he was on the lookout by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). A look out circular is issued by authorities to ensure an individual who is named in a case or is wanted by law enforcement agencies does not leave the country. 

Aakar told TNM that he was stopped by immigration officials even though he had a court order releasing his passport specifically for this trip. His passport had earlier been impounded in connection with a case filed against him by a BJP MLA in Surat but he got the passport back from the court for this trip. Aakar was scheduled to fly to the USA to deliver lectures in three universities — Michigan University, Berkley University and New York University.

“I was told at the Bengaluru airport that there was a look out circular in my name. I showed them the court order and told them that my passport had been impounded and released specifically for this trip. They said that this was a different case, it was a CBI notice. I called the person incharge at the CBI,” Aakar told TNM. 

“I have answered all the summons that have been issued to me so far and answered all questions. I will surely contest this in court. Even if it means I may not be able to go to the US now, I will take this up legally and am sure I will win,” he added. 

Aakar was informed that the lookout circular was in connection with the case filed by CBI against Amnesty India. He tweeted, "CBI officer called to say I am on the Look-Out Circular because of the case Modi govt has filed against Amnesty International India." He, however, also said he has neither been arrested nor is he on bail in that case. 

The CBI had raided the premises of Amnesty International India's offices in Bengaluru and New Delhi in November 2019. About 15 CBI officers had visited the Amnesty office in Indiranagar, a posh locality near the central business district in Bengaluru, taking away details pertaining to multiple compliances, organisation structure and others.

In 2018, the Enforcement Directorate had raided the Amnesty International India office in connection with a foreign exchange contravention case. The searches were in connection with the alleged violation of foreign direct investment norms linked to a previous case of revocation of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) license of the NGO by the Home Ministry in 2010.

Back then, Amnesty International India alleged that a pattern of harassment has emerged every time Amnesty India stands up and speaks out against human rights violations in India. It said that it stands in full compliance with Indian and international law.

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