Amnesty International has stopped work in India after the government froze its bank accounts as part of what the group claims is a “witch-hunt”.
A statement from the UK-based human rights organisation revealed that staff had been let go due to the sanctions, which came after two years of investigations.
Amnesty said it had faced economic pressure since 2018 over “unfounded” allegations of financial misconduct, and paused operations and closed offices following news of the Indian government’s latest move.
The statement said: “This is the latest in the incessant witch-hunt of human rights organisations by the government of India over unfounded and motivated allegations.”
Image: The group’s work in the country includes highlighting a lack of accountability in the police following the Delhi riots in February
Amnesty said it had been targeted by the enforcement directorate, which investigates financial crimes.
The group’s accounts were frozen on 10 September, although it said it has been dealing with investigations from the directorate since 2018.
Avinash Kumar, executive director of Amnesty International India, said: “For a movement that has done nothing but raise its voices against injustice, this latest attack is akin to freezing dissent.”
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Mr Kumar added that more than four million Indians supported what Amnesty International did and that 100,000 had donated to the charity.
The work that Amnesty has done in the country recently includes looking at alleged human rights violations in the Jammu and Kashmir region.
Amnesty has also highlighted what it claims is a lack of police accountability during the riots in Delhi in February, in which at least 50 people – mostly Muslims – died.
Image: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been accused of pushing a Hindu-first agenda
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has not yet responded to Amnesty’s announcement.
Mr Modi’s regime has faced accusations that it is clamping down on dissent and pushing a Hindu-first agenda in a country with 170 million Muslims.
This has an impact on Muslim-majority areas like Kashmir, which has seen insurgents battle with government forces for more than 30 years.
The government has denied discriminating against any community.
Opposition politician Shashi Tharoor said: “India’s stature as a liberal democracy with free institutions, including media and civil society organisations, accounted for much of its soft power in the world.
“Actions like this both undermine our reputation as a democracy and vitiate our soft power.”
The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Bill was passed last week, which set new regulations for how foreign organisations like Amnesty can operate in the country.
Some NGOs said the measures were aimed at creating an air of distrust.
Source : Sky News