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

Savarkar in Ahmedabad "declared support" to two-nation theory in 1937, followed by Jinnah three 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.

Girl child education: 20 major states 'score' better than Gujarat, says GoI report

By Rajiv Shah
A Government of India report, released last month, has suggested that “model” Gujarat has failed to make any progress vis-à-vis other states in ensuring that girls continue to remain enrolled after they leave primary schools. The report finds that, in the age group 14-17, Gujarat’s 71% girls are enrolled at the secondary and higher secondary level, which is worse than 20 out of 22 major states for which data have been made available.

Congress 'promises' cancellation of Adani power project: Jharkhand elections

Counterview Desk
Pointing out that people's issues take a backseat in Jharkhand's 2019 assembly elections, the state's civil rights organization, the Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha, a coalition of activists and people’s organisations, has said that political parties have largely ignored in their electoral manifestos the need to implement the fifth schedule of the Constitution in a predominantly tribal district.

Hindutva founders 'borrowed' Nazi, fascist idea of one flag, one leader, one ideology

By Shamsul Islam*
With the unleashing of the reign of terror by the RSS/BJP rulers against working-class, peasant organizations, women organizations, student movements, intellectuals, writers, poets and progressive social/political activists, India also witnessed a series of resistance programmes organized by the pro-people cultural organizations in different parts of the country. My address in some of these programmes is reproduced here... 
***  Before sharing my views on the tasks of artists-writers-intellectuals in the times of fascism, let me briefly define fascism and how it is different from totalitarianism. Totalitarianism is political concept, a dictatorship of an individual, family or group which prohibits opposition in any form, and exercises an extremely high degree of control over public and private life. It is also described as authoritarianism.
Whereas fascism, while retaining all these repressive characteristics, also believes in god-ordained superiority of race, cultur…

Ex-World Bank chief economist doubts spurt in India's ease of doing business rank

By Rajiv Shah
This is in continuation of my previous blog where I had quoted from a commentary which top economist Prof Kaushik Basu had written in the New York Times (NYT) a little less than a month ago, on November 6, to be exact. He recalled this article through a tweet on November 29, soon after it was made known that India's growth rate had slumped (officially!) to 4.5%.

With RSS around, does India need foreign enemy to undo its democratic-secular fabric?

By Shamsul Islam*
Many well-meaning liberal and secular political analysts are highly perturbed by sectarian policy decisions of RSS/BJP rulers led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, especially after starting his second inning. They are vocal in red-flagging lynching incidents, policies of the Modi government on Kashmir, the National Register of Citizens (NRC), the demand for 'Bharat Ratna' to Savarkar who submitted 6-7 mercy petitions to the British masters (getting remission of 40 years out of 50 years' sentence), and the murder of constitutional norms in Goa, Karnataka and now in Maharashtra.

Post-Balakot, danger that events might spiral out of control is 'greater, not less'

By Tapan Bose*
The fear of war in South Asia is increasing. Tensions are escalating between India and Pakistan after the Indian defence minister's announcement in August this year that India may revoke its current commitment to only use nuclear weapons in retaliation for a nuclear attack, known as ‘no first use’. According to some experts who are watching the situation the risk of a conflict between the two countries has never been greater since they both tested nuclear weapons in 1998.

Worrying signs in BJP: Modi, Shah begin 'cold-shouldering' Gujarat CM, party chief

By RK Misra*
The political developments in neighbouring Maharashtra where a Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government assumed office has had a trickle down effect in Gujarat with both the ruling BJP and the Congress opposition going into revamp mode.

Ships recycling Bill 'allows' India to be turned into a landfill for foreign hazardous waste

Counterview Desk
In a letter to M Venkaiah Naidu, chairman, Rajya Sabha, senior activist Gopal Krishna of the Toxics Watch Alliance has said that the Recycling of Ships Bill, 2019 should be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology, Environment, Forests and Climate Change to "safeguard country’s maritime environment from harmful and hazardous wastes and materials".

'Favouring' tribals and ignoring Adivasis? Behind coercion of India's aborigines

By Mohan Guruswamy*
Tribal people account for 8.2% of India’s population. They are spread over all of India’s States and Union Territories. Even so they can be broadly classified into three groupings. The first grouping consists of populations who predate the Indo-Aryan migrations. These are termed by many anthropologists as the Austro-Asiatic-speaking Australoid people.