SRINAGAR: Amnesty International (AI) India on Tuesday has decided to shut its operations in the country. The decision, which will see close to 150 employees lose their jobs, came after the recent move by the Enforcement Directorate to freeze the organisation’s accounts.
The ED, following an FIR by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), filed on November 5, 2019, on charges of an alleged violation of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), had initiated a separate probe last year. The ED has now converted the preliminary inquiry into an ECIR (the equivalent of an FIR) alleging money laundering charges and froze all of AI India’s bank accounts. The ED has invoked the Prevention of Money Laundering Act this time, The Wire reported
In a press statement, AI’s India office has said, “On 10 September 2020, Amnesty International India came to know that all its bank accounts were completely frozen by the Enforcement Directorate bringing most of the work of the human rights organization to a grinding halt,” reported The Wire.
It blamed ‘reprisal’ from the government for winding down its operations, adding, “This is latest in the incessant witch-hunt of human rights organizations by the Government of India over unfounded and motivated allegations.”
The organisation in recent years have been working on five crucial projects—business and human rights, individuals at risk, gender-based violence, human rights education, and access to justice in Jammu and Kashmir. Besides these full-fledged projects, AI India has also issued statements from time to time on issues involving human rights violations.
Their most recent contribution was two exhaustive reports on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir and the riots in Northeast Delhi. On August 5, 2020, marking the first anniversary of the dilution of Article 370 of the Constitution of India, the organisation released an update on the situation of human rights in Jammu and Kashmir.