Skip to main content

Govt of India "tarnishing" NGO reputation, dossier leaked selectively: Amnesty

Counterview Desk
Amnesty International India has said that a deliberate attempt is being made to tarnish its reputation by leaking a dossier, supposedly made by investigating agencies, to media without giving it access to any such information. The high profile NGO’s claim follows a Times Now report about proceedings launched by investigative agencies, including Enforcement Directorate (ED) against the rights body for “violations” of rules pertaining to overseas donations.
Times Now report says, “ED dossier cites documents seized in raids on Amnesty office in Bengaluru as proof ‘beyond doubt’ that Amnesty is making false claims. Records of foreign funds, incriminating admissions on paper collecting during raids by ED on Amnesty pose difficult questions about the activities of the Human Rights group.”
It wonders, “Did Amnesty resort to secrecy to hide commercial contracts with foreign 'firms' to ‘create, initiate, expend and support’ movements in sensitive areas?”

Text of the Amnesty statement:

The latest leak of a dossier on Amnesty India by the Enforcement Directorate based on its ongoing investigations, indicates a deliberate attempt by the government to tarnish Amnesty India’s reputation. Amnesty India calls for an immediate end to this smear campaign and an independent inquiry into the selective leaks of information that are fueling this smear campaign.
“In the three weeks since we were raided by the Enforcement Directorate, no formal charges have been filed against us. So, it is really shocking to see media coverage of what is alleged to be documents from the investigation. If the authorities believe that Amnesty India has committed an offence, they must prove it in a court of law. However, the Enforcement Directorate seems to be leaking selective information and conducting a media trial,” said Aakar Patel of Amnesty India.
“It is alarming to see authorities resort to such low measures to discredit the work of an organization committed to upholding human rights. The latest action of leaking documents related to an ongoing investigation to a media house to tarnish Amnesty India’s reputation is deplorable. Such actions highlight a pattern of demonizing and criminalizing human rights defenders and organizations. The government seems afraid and viscerally opposed to anyone who is critical of its actions or policies,” said Aakar Patel.
On November 14, a prominent news channel ran two hour-long special shows on the Enforcement Directorate’s raids on Amnesty India. The anchors claimed to have accessed the entire dossier of investigations done by the investigating agency. They also showed visuals of the documents, including the investigation report, testimonies and bank documents that are a part of the investigations. It is important to note that Amnesty India has still not been given access to the dossier and has repeatedly been denied access to such information by the agency.
At one point, the anchor read from what is alleged to be a copy of the statement given by Aakar Patel, the Chief Executive Officer of Amnesty International India Private Limited and the Managing Trustee of Indians for Amnesty International Trust, to the Enforcement Directorate. This document was also flashed repeatedly during the show.
The Enforcement Directorate officials refused to provide a copy of said statement to Aakar Patel, when it was requested during the search and again on October 31 in the Enforcement Directorate’s office. They refused on the grounds that the copy is confidential and can only be shared after the charges are framed.
“Isn’t this a gross violation of natural justice where the person accused of a crime is not given full details? We have always respected the rule of law and have extended our full cooperation to the agency’s investigations. However, it seems like the government thinks it can abuse its power and run smear campaigns to fulfill its agenda of silencing anyone who questions power. The authorities should initiate an independent probe and bring to justice those who are responsible for this leak,” said Aakar Patel.
This is not the first time the investigating agency has leaked information about Amnesty India to the media. Ahead of the raids on 25 October, of which Amnesty India was not aware, the government authorities had leaked a cache of documents marked “secret” that cast Amnesty India’s operations in a dark web of intrigue. Within moments of the raid, a smear campaign was launched on social media and sections of the pro-government media that have long been opposed to the work being done by Amnesty India.
Background
On October 25, 2018, Amnesty India endured a ten-hour-long raid as a group of officers from the Enforcement Directorate, a financial investigation agency under the Ministry of Finance, entered the premises and locked the gates behind them. 
Some of the staff were ordered to not leave, shut their laptops and not use their mobile phones. Most of the documents asked for during the search were available in the public domain or were already filed with the relevant government authorities.
Details of our current structure, which was the focus of much of the questioning, have been available on our website since 2014. Following the raid, and despite operating in compliance with relevant national regulations, the accounts of Amnesty India have been frozen, effectively stopping our work. Simultaneously, the Ministry of Home Affairs has also initiated investigations into the funds received by Amnesty India.
The latest leak of a dossier on Amnesty India by the Enforcement Directorate based on its ongoing investigations, indicates a deliberate attempt by the government to tarnish Amnesty India’s reputation.

Comments

TRENDING

Mystery around Gujarat PSU 'transfer' of Rs 250 crore to Canadian firm Karnalyte

By AK Luke, IAS (Retd)*
While returning from a Board meeting of the Oil India Limited (OIL) in Ahmedabad some time in 2012, two officers of the Gujarat State Fertilizers and Chemicals Ltd (GSFC), Nanavaty and Patel,  saw me off at the airport. They said they were proceeding to Canada in connection with a project GSFC had entered into with a company there. As we were running late, I hastily wished them the best.

Savarkar in Ahmedabad 'declared' two-nation theory in 1937, Jinnah followed 3 years later

By Our Representative
One of the top freedom fighters whom BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi revere the most, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, was also a great supporter of the two nation theory for India, one for Hindus another for Muslims, claims a new expose on the man who is also known to be the original proponent of the concept of Hindutva.

J&K continues to be haunted, as parts of India 'degenerate' into quasi-Kashmir situation

By Rajendran Narayanan*, Sandeep Pandey**
“Jab har saans mein bandook dikhe toh baccha kaise bekhauf rahe?” (How can a child be fearless when she sees a gun in every breath?) remarked Anwar, a gardener from Srinagar, when asked about the situation in Kashmir. On November 30, 2019, a walk through an iron gate in a quiet neighbourhood of Srinagar took us inside a public school. It was 11 am when typically every school is abuzz with activity. Not here though.

Indians have made 119 nations their ‘karma bhumi’: US-based Hindu NGO tells Rupani

Counterview Desk
In a stinging letter to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, the US-based Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR), referring to the report citing his justification for the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) – that “while Muslims can choose any one of the 150 Islamic countries in the world (for residence), India is the only country for Hindus" – has said, he should remember, Hindus have made several countries, including USA, their home.

Tata Mundra's possible closure? Power ministry's 'pressure tactic' on consumer states

By Bharat Patel*
Tata power has announced to the Union Ministry of Power that Tata Power may be forced to stop operating  its imported coal-based Mundra Ultra-Mega Power Project (UMPP) after February, 2020. It is not only unfortunate but also criminal that irreversible damage has been caused to the fragile ecosystem of Mundra coast for a project that will have a running life of only seven years.

What about religious persecution of Dalits, Adivasis, asks anti-CAA meet off Ahmedabad

By Rajiv Shah
A well-attended Dalit rights meet under the banner “14 Pe Charcha” (discussion on Article 14 of the Indian Constitution), alluding to Prime Minister Narendra Modi well-known campaign phrase of the 2014 Parliamentary elections, “chai pe charcha” (discussion over cup of tea), organized off Ahmedabad, has resolved on Wednesday to hold a 14 kilometres-long rally on April 14 to oppose the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), enacted on December 10-11.

Population control? 10% Indian couples want to delay next pregnancy, but fail

Counterview Desk
Shireen Jejeebhoy, director at Aksha Centre for Equity and Wellbeing, previously senior associate at the Population Council, India, argues that the debate on the country's population was fuelled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day address to the nation, where he drew attention to “concern” about the challenges posed by this ‘exploding’ population growth, needs to centre around the promotion of rights and education, instead of the language of explosion and the threat of coercion that this term implies.

Upendra Baxi on foolish excellence, Indian judges and Consitutional cockroaches

By Rajiv Shah
In a controversial assertion, top legal expert Upendra Baxi has sought to question India's Constitution makers for neglecting human rights and social justice. Addressing an elite audience in Ahmedabad, Prof Baxi said, the constitutional idea of India enunciated by the Constituent Assembly tried to resolve four key conflicting concepts: governance, development, rights and justice.

Kerala governor turned History Congress into political arena, 'insulted' Prof Irfan Habib

Counterview Desk
In a signed statement, office bearers of the Aligarh Society of History and Archaeology (ASHA), Prof Syed Ali Nadeem Rezavi (president), Prof Jabir Raza (vice-president), Prof Manvendra Kumar Pundhir (secretary) and Prof Farhat Hasan (joint secretary), have said that Kerala governor Arif Mohammad Khan had sought to insult veteran historian Prof Irfan Habib, 88, at the 80th session of the Indian History Congress, even as turning it into his “political arena”.