Skip to main content

Deportation of human rights activist: Amnesty is "as opaque as Ministry of Home Affairs", charges senior researcher

Christine Mehta
By Our Representative
A senior activist-researcher Ramesh Gopalakrishnan has questioned premier human rights organisation Amnesty International's silence over the deportation of one of its ex-seniors-most activists Christine Mehta, a US citizen and person of Indian origin, from India in November last year. Mehta was instrumental in authoring the by now well-known Amnesty report "Denied" on human rights violations in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K).
The report was released on July 1. Ever since she was deported to US, she is out the Amnesty fold. Strongly critical of Amnesty's ways, Gopalakrishnan believes, it was Amnesty's duty to stand by Mehta, which it has not. A product of Indian Institute of Technology, Chennai, who decided to be human rights activist and was with Amnesty till April 2014, Gopalakrishnan is independent London-based researcher and a visiting faculty at the Asian College of Journalism, Chennai conducting an elective on human rights. 
Qualifying the report prepared under Mehta on J&K "meticulously-researched", Gopalakrishnan recalls how it enumerates the "systemic denial or blocking of official permission to prosecute armed forces or paramilitary personnel in 50-odd cases of human rights violations, including extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances and torture."
So deep is the research that "it would be impossible for India’s Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to deny the report’s details", Gopalakrishnan points out. Anticipating what was coming, she was asked to leave India in November 2014 impounding her "Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card", with the passport having "an exit stamp which renders her future visits to India impossible". Currently, the situation is such that  her "contract with the organization she worked for also came to an abrupt end" (click HERE).
"Mehta’s induced guilt is about having carried out substantial research on the human rights situation in Kashmir for which she had visited the valley several times during 2012-2014", Gopalakrishnan says, adding, "In Mehta’s case, this induced guilt becomes her own and the modern organization she had worked for does not appear to have any guilt about her current situation!"
"One wonders if the modern organization’s mind is as opaque as that of the MHA which ordered her deportation", Gopalakrishnan says, questioning Amnesty's ways, adding, her case reflects on "the Indian national office of the world’s biggest human rights outfit, Amnesty International, which claims to have over seven million supporters standing up against the violations of the world’s governments and the abuses of corporate giants."
Quoting Mehta, Gopalakrishnan says, her "induced guilt" comes from the fact that there was "no permission from the MHA for her, as a PIO status-holder, to visit the valley for business or work purposes", adding, "Such permission is deemed necessary as per India’s visa rules, but she admits that neither she nor Amnesty International’s Indian national office had sought this permission."
Asks Gopalakrishnan, "Does it really matter that Mehta is a foreign national? No, it is amply clear that the violations in Kashmir or any other place remain the same whether or they are researched by an Indian or a foreign national who uses the framework of international human rights law."
An Amnesty insider, Gopalakrishan says, "Our plea that the research on Kashmir should be done by Indian nationals fell on deaf ears". He adds, When Amnesty International’s India national office asked Mehta to do the research on Kashmir, "it ticked off our warning that her visa status could be jeopardized." Yet she was "sent her to Kashmir several times, as a consequence of which, "she has had to face deportation" and is "unable to visit India even to meet her family."

Comments

TRENDING

Whistle-blowing IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt's wife suspects foul play after truck hits her car

By Nachiketa Desai*
Paranoia has seized Shweta Bhatt, wife of suspended Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Sanjiv Bhatt, after the car she was driving was rammed in broad day light. According to Shweta Bhatt, it was beacon light-flashing truck without registration number plate. The incident took place on January 7, just a day ahead of the Gujarat High Court was scheduled to take up the bail application of Sanjiv Bhatt, arrested last year for "involvement" in a 23-year-old case.

Call to support IIM-Bangalore professor, censured for seeking action against Uniliver

Counterview Desk
Sections of the Indian Institute of Managements (IIMs) across India have strongly reacted to the decision to censure Dr Deepak Malghan, a faulty at IIM-Bangalore. Prabhir Vishnu Poruthiyil, who is faculty at IIM-Tiruchirapalli, has sought wider solidarity with Dr Malghan, saying, "The administration has censured Deepak for merely suggesting a meaningful action against Hindustan Unilever for their abysmal environmental record" by “disinviting” it for campus placement.

Morari Bapu, who has installed new statues of Ram, Laxman, Hanuman without weapons

By Sandeep Pandey*
A saint is one who can give some inner peace by his/her voice. This will happen only when s(he) will talk about love and harmony. Morari Bapu is one saint who has been conveying the message of love, peace, harmony, fraternity, etc. Today when a number of saffron clad figures with aggressive posture, spewing venom, fanning hatred to polarise voters are at the forefront of politics of Hindutva it is a relief to see Morari Bapu in a different mould.

99% MGNREGA funds "exhausted", Govt of India makes no additional sanctions: Study

Counterview Desk
A letter, addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and prepared by senior activists led by Aruna Roy on behalf of the Peoples’ Action for Employment Guarantee (PAEG), and signed, among others, by 80 members of Parliament, has regretted that, despite repeated public statements by his government promising employment and job creation that will boost the country’s growth, the country’s only employment guarantee programme, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), “is being systematically undermined.”

Rejoinder: Worldwide anxiety post-Fukishima is fading, slowly and steadily

By Dr KS Parthasarathy* 
EAS Sarma, former Secretary, Government of India (GoI) in a letter addressed to the Secretary, Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), GoI, stated that, there has been "worldwide anxiety about the consequences of catastrophic nuclear accidents, either due to manual lapses or natural calamities" (Counterview, December 2, 2018). "In the recent years, globally, the pace of growth of nuclear power has escalated in leaps and bounds, causing a great deal of public concern and apprehension."

Nuclear reactors sought from French giant "not safe": Letter to Modi on Jaitapur project

Counterview Desk
Amidst reports that the French nuclear giant EDF has submitted a “techno-commercial offer” for the world’s largest nuclear power park proposed in Maharashtra’s Jaitapur nuclear power park in Jaitapur on the Maharashtra coast, Dr EAS Sarma, India’s former Union Secretary in the Minister of Power, and an eminent voice in the civil society, has written an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who also heads Department of Atomic Energy (DAE),  protesting the move.

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

Kerala land being acquired using "draconian, anti-people" National Highway Act, 1956

Counterview Desk
In a letter Chief Minister of Kerala Pinarayi Vijayan, senior activists and politicians have insisted that the Kerala government should not agree to "inhuman displacement and buid-operate-transfer (BOT) Toll system", imposed by the Government of India and the National Highway Authority of India, for widening the current National Highway (NH) 66.

Kaiga NPP expansion: Karnataka to get just 400 MW, but lose thick forest, fresh water

Counterview Desk
In an open letter to the chairman and members of the Atomic energy Commission (AEC) on the issue of Kaiga nuclear power plant (NPP) expansion plan in Karnataka, Shankar Sharma, well-known power policy analyst, has argued that that in case of expansion, the site will face “exponential increase in radiation emission risks”, underlining, “Nuclear safety experts identify such a scenario as enhanced risk for NPPs with multiple reactors and shared technical facilities."
Sharma says the questions that also be asked whether Karnataka should lose more than 54 hectares of thick forests and about 152,304 cubic meters of fresh water per day from Kali river for a meager benefit of 400 MW from the Kaiga NPP, for which “there are many benign alternative options available for the state at much lower overall costs to the state.”
Text of the letter: This has reference to the public hearing under the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Rule 2006 of Ministry of Environment, Fore…

Uttarakhand High Court: Biodiversity boards can impose fees on Ramdev's Divya Pharmacy

By Mridhu Tandon
In a significant decision, the Uttarakhand High Court on December 21, 2018 has dismissed the writ petition filed by Divya Pharmacy founded by Baba Ramdev and Acharya Balakrishnan, challenging the demand of the Uttarakhand Biodiversity Board (UBB) imposing fees under the provisions of the Fair and Equitable Benefit Sharing (FEBS).