The Central Bureau of Investigation has filed a first information report against human rights activist Harsh Mander and his research and advocacy organisation Centre for Equity Studies for alleged violations of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act.

The Central Bureau of Investigation has alleged that the Centre for Equity Studies, a trust registered under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, had transferred Rs 32.7 lakh, other than salaries and remunerations, from its FCRA account to “account of individual(s) during 2020-21 in violation of FCRA, 2010”.

“Enquiry has also revealed that [the] Centre for Equity Studies had diverted an amount of Rs 10 lakh (approx.) from its FCRA account through the firm(s) in violation of the provisions of FCRA, 2010,” the first information report says.

This came after the investigation agency on Friday raided the Centre for Equity Studies office in Delhi’s Adchini area and then Mander’s home in the Vasant Kunj area, people familiar with the developments said. The Central Bureau of Investigation has questioned several persons in connection with the case as part of its preliminary enquiry.

“My life, my writings and my work are my only response,” Mander said after the raids.

A group of prominent citizens said they condemn the “continued victimisation and intimidation” of Mander.

“Today’s raid is a part of the long chain of harassment of Dr Harsh Mander, his colleagues, his family and former and present board members of the Centre for Equity Studies,” they said in a statement. “It is important to know that since 2020 multiple investigating agencies of the government including National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights, Delhi Police’s Economic offences wing, Income Tax authorities, Enforcement Directorate and now the Central Bureau of Investigations have been carrying out what can only be described as a vindictive witch hunt. In not a single case has a chargesheet been presented in a court of law.”

The citizens’ group said that the “egregious attacks” on Mander and his organisation are “an attack on all of civil society in India and all those who work to promote constitutional values”.

The charges being brought against Mander are “entirely fabricated and without any material basis,” the group said, demanding the closure of all investigations against the activist, and his colleagues and the organisation.

In June, the Union home ministry had suspended the think tank’s Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act licence for 180 days. The ministry had said that Mander was regularly writing columns for publications such as The Indian Express, The Hindu, The Wire, the Hindustan Times, The Quint and Scroll.

The government alleged that Mander accepted foreign contributions amounting to Rs 12,64,671 from 2011-’12 to 2017-’18 as “professional receipts/payments from the FCRA account of the association [Centre for Equity Studies]”. This, the home ministry said, violated the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act.