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Not true, says govt as Amnesty cries ‘reprisal’ on ending ops

As Amnesty International halted India operations today citing reprisal by the Centre, the government hit back terming the NGO’s charges “unfortunate, exaggerated and far from truth”. A statement from the Home Ministry said owing to illegal practices of Amnesty International, the previous government had also rejected its applications to receive funds from overseas.

“This led Amnesty to suspend its India operations once during that period as well. This bipartisan and purely legal approach towards Amnesty, under different governments, makes it clear that the entire fault lies in the dubious processes adopted by Amnesty to secure funds for its operations,” the government said, adding that Amnesty International received permission under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act only once, 20 years ago.

“Since then Amnesty International, despite its repeated applications, has been denied FCRA approval by successive governments since as per law it is not eligible to get such approval. To circumvent the FCRA regulations, Amnesty UK remitted money to four entities in India, by classifying it as Foreign Direct Investment. A significant amount of foreign money was remitted to Amnesty (India) without MHA’s approval,” said the government.

Amnesty is free to continue humanitarian work in India, but it must remember Indian law does not allow interference in domestic political debates by entities funded by foreign donations. Amnesty today announced halting of India operations over “reprisal by the government” and said the Centre had frozen its bank accounts bringing it to a grinding halt.

“The continuing crackdown on Amnesty over the past two years and freezing of bank accounts is not accidental,” said the NGO. For a movement that has done nothing but raise its voices against injustice, this latest attack is akin to freezing dissent,” said Avinash Kumar, Executive Director of Amnesty International India.