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Vendetta politics of govt: Over 600 activists on FIR against Harsh Mander, CES

By Our Representative 

More than 600 civil society activists, protesting against the Delhi Police move to file a first information report against bureaucrat-turned-human rights activist Harsh Mander and the Centre for Equity Studies (CES) founded by him for alleged financial irregularities, have said, it signifies “decline in Constitutional values and shrinking space for civil society”.
Noting that the case against Mander and CES suggests “demonisation and persecution of activists and organisations”, in an open statement, the activists call the move nothing but “active hounding” of Harsh Mander a clear example of “the vendetta politics of the government.”
A former IAS officer who quit service in 2002 in the wake of the Gujarat riots, and currently a part of significant civil society initiatives, Mander has served as head of Action Aid India. He is co-founder of CES, of the Karwan-e-Mohabbat, an initiative to promote love and communal harmony, and was a member of the National Advisory Council chaired by UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi.
Harsh Mander
Mander has also been associated with the Narmada Bachao Andolan, the well-known anti-dam NGO, and the National Campaign for Peoples’ Right to Information, an RTI NGO network. As for CES, which was formed about two decades ago, it ran a network of 51 children’s homes across the country covering hundreds of children and was responsible for the Central government’s guidelines on the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan for street children till 2014.
The statement says, “That the current regime has now chosen to target a distinguished civil society organisation in the continuing politics of vendetta to silence Mander is symptomatic of how those who dissent are being dealt with in India today.”
“The egregious attacks on the Centre for Equity Studies ranging from wild accusations of sexual misconduct in two of the children’s homes run by the organisation to the fishing expedition being undertaken by the Economics Offences Wing of Delhi Police are but two examples of the recent attacks on Harsh Mander and the institutions associated with him”, the statement reads.
The statement demands “end to vendetta politics towards Harsh Mander and CES”, stop misusing regulatory institutions and laws like the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) to harass civil Society institutions, and “allow democratic spaces for civil society to operate and give due recognition of their role in nation building.

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