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Vindictive raids? Centre 'retaliates' after Delhi govt child rights body's clean chit to ex-babu

By Our Representative 

Over 700 academics, advocates, activists, civil servants, writers, film makers, journalists, musicians and artists have condemned the raids by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on the offices and private home of top IAS bureaucrat-turned-human rights and peace activist Harsh Mander, stating, the aim is nothing but to “harass and intimidate” him.
Claiming that he has “done nothing but work for peace and harmony, consistently upholding the highest moral standards of honesty and probity”, the signatories include Historians Romila Thapar and Rajmohan Gandhi, former topcop Julio Ribeiro, Admiral Ramdas, RTI activist Aruna Roy, senior advocates Indira Jaising and Prashant Bhushan, development economist Prof Jean Dreze, and human rights leader Medha Patkar.
The signatories say, “Over the past year, Harsh Mander and the Centre for Equity Studies (CES) have been subjected to continued harassment by multiple state agencies.” The ED raid took place on September 16, adding, this happened against the backdrop of “false and malicious allegations by the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR).”
The NCPCR, an apex Central child rights body, had alleged in the past that during the inspection of two NGOs run by Mander many violations of the Juvenile Justice Act and various other irregularities, including prevalence of child sexual abuse in one of the homes, were observed.
The statement by the signatories says, the NCPCR allegations were strongly countered by “the Delhi Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR), a statutory body, which has filed a strong affidavit in the Delhi High Court, putting an end to the false allegations against CES.”
The Income Tax (IT) department simultaneously raided one of the children’s shelter homes run by an allied institution of CES – Ummeed Aman Ghar in Mehrauli, even as Mander is in Berlin, at the invitation of the Robert Bosch Academy to join them for the prestigious Richard Von Weizsacker Fellowship, the statement says.
The Robert Bosch Academy, founded in 2014 as an institution of the Robert Bosch Stiftung, offers international decision-makers, opinion leaders, and experts the opportunity for solution-oriented cooperation on issues of global relevance.
The statement says, “CES has also been subjected to harassment by the Economic Offences Wing (EOW), and the IT department. All these vindictive efforts combined, have showed neither diversion of money nor any violation of the law. The current raids by the ED and IT department are to be viewed in this context, as part of a continuing chain of abuse of state institutions to threaten, intimidate and try to silence every critic of the present government.”
It adds, “We stand with Harsh Mander and with each person associated with CES. The Constitution of India and the law of the land shall prevail, exposing these intimidatory tactics exactly for what they are – an abuse of state institutions to try and curtail all our rights.”

Main aim is to target political opponents: PFI 

In a separate statement, the Popular Front of India (PFI), a civil rights group, has said the raids conducted by the ED and IT officials at offices and residence Mander are part of the shameful harassment and intimidation being spearheaded by the central agencies against the critics of the Modi Government.
"Mander’s life and work is an open book. He is an ardent critic of Sangh Pariwar’s hate politics and an active promoter of peace, inclusivity, and social justice. He and his CES come under attack like scores of other human rights activists, intellectuals, organizations, and NGOs in the country, for having a view that is opposed to the ruling party and expressing it openly", said OMA Salam of PFI. 
He accused the Modi government of "targeting political opponents with bogus investigations, fabricated cases, and draconian charges", insisting "Democratic forces in the country have to come forward to resist the abuse of power to crush democratic rights and civil liberties. Popular Front expresses its solidarity with Harsh Mander and CES against this harassment.”

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