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Amnesty to halt work in India after its bank account ‘frozen’

Amnesty to halt work in India after its bank account ‘frozen’

Amnesty accused the government of running an “incessant witch hunt” campaign against human rights organisations [File: Carlos Jass/Reuters]

Amnesty International says it is halting work in India due to a “continuing crackdown” and “harassment” by the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The human rights watchdog said the bank account of its India branch has been frozen by the right-wing government, forcing it to lay off staff and stop campaign and research work in the South Asian nation.

It also accused the government of running an “incessant witch hunt” campaign against human rights organisations over “unfounded and motivated” allegations.

“The continuing crackdown on Amnesty International India over the last two years and the complete freezing of bank accounts is not accidental,” said Avinash Kumar, Executive Director of Amnesty International India, in a statement on Tuesday.

“The constant harassment by government agencies including the Enforcement Directorate is a result of our unequivocal calls for transparency in the government, more recently for accountability of the Delhi police and the Government of India regarding the grave human rights violations in Delhi riots and Jammu & Kashmir.

The Human rights watchdog said it was halting its operations in India, citing reprisals from the government and the freezing of its bank accounts [File: Aijaz Rahi/AP Photo]“For a movement that has done nothing but raise its voices against injustice, this latest attack is akin to freezing dissent.”

The Indian government has not commented on Amnesty’s allegations.

I think this raises a big question which the world needs to wake up and recognise that India is no longer a functioning democracy.

Al Jazeera tried to contact several spokespeople from the governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) but did not receive a response by the time of the publication.

Activist Kavita Krishan told Al Jazeera it was a “very deliberate” attempt by the Indian government to suppress an international human rights organisation.

“It’s a direct attempt by the Indian government to tell international human rights group that if you document rights violations by the Indian state we won’t let you continue to function in India,” said Krishnan, who is also the secretary of the All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWA).

“I think this raises a big question which the world needs to wake up and recognise that India is no longer a functioning democracy.

“We need to wake up and understand what is happening in India to rights defenders, many of whom are in jail under draconian laws,” she said.

Source: Aljazeera

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