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Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Amnesty International Forced to Shut Down its Indian Operations

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Zareen Afridi
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Amnesty International India announced today that it is halting all its operations in India. The news comes as a result of the recent human rights issues taken up by Amnesty which include Delhi Police riots, proven police brutality in Delhi, Article 370 in Kashmir, and many others. 

Amnesty International is an international organisation which has won the Nobel Peace Prize and has been working for promoting justice and truth all over the world. It is a global watchdog of human rights and protects the rights of everyone irrespective of caste, creed or gender. 

Amnesty International was founded in 1961 and so far it has helped around 4 million people to safeguard their rights. The organization is self-funded and does not accept funds from the government or political organisations. 

On 10 September, Government of India had frozen all the accounts of Amnesty International India, claiming that Amnesty had never registered as a firm under FCRA. Contradicting to this, Amnesty says that its request has been pending from past many years. The grinding halt of the organisation all of a sudden comes as a shocker as the chronology of events is dubious.

In August, Amnesty International had spoken about Jammu and Kashmir and the abrogation of Article 370 in the area. Later in its researches and investigations, it discovered proof of extreme police brutality in Delhi riots, more specifically assaults on women in these riots. It questioned why the police are not investigated and why no reprimanding action has been taken yet against the Delhi Police. Women safety and child sexual abuse were other important issues taken up by them which also points towards the injustices and irresponsive behaviour of the BJP-led government. 

Amnesty International is a prominent Human Rights watchdog who has spoken about the injustices and Human Rights abuses happening against the minorities, lower caste, women safety and many others. The government claims that the firm had never registered under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act which does not entitle them to function as a company. Moreover, the government says that they have been receiving funds from outside which are not directed properly. If an NGO receives funds from abroad, that have to register under Home Ministry of India which approves them. The ED claims that the funds obtained by Amnesty International have been done without prior permission, as a result of which the bank accounts are forcibly shut down.

Since all accounts are frozen, the NGO had to let go of the staff and all the work done by it comes to a sudden halt. A senior official of Amnesty International was taken into custody and asked why the organisation has taken up these issues to work on. The grilling session constituted of pressing questions about their field of work and why do they do so. Later, the company had issued the official statement that it is halting all its Indian operations.

The question that arises here is that is the government trying to silence down everyone who questions them? The witch-hunt that has been carried out by the government is leading to one arrest or the another. The main issues which should be the prime concern of the government like the rising COVID cases,  job losses, women safety and protection of the minorities against abuses are taken up by non-governmental organisations, which instead of being promoted are forcibly shut down.  Whoever asks questions to the government, does it have to silence like this? If these organisations will not take up the pressing issues of the country then who will highlight them? And if there is no one then where is the justice and harmony in the country? 

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