Advocacy group Amnesty International India issued a statement on Tuesday saying the sedition charges filed against it the previous day are "without substance," after members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad claimed that an event the NGO had organised in Bengaluru on human rights abuses in Kashmir was "anti-national." Bengaluru police had filed a sedition case against Amnesty as a result of the complaint. In its statement, Amnesty offered a point-by-point rebuttal of the ABVP's claims and said that those filing the complaint were preventing families of human rights victims in Jammu and Kashmir from having their stories heard.
The event, “Broken Families”, took place on Saturday at United Theological College. It was attended by activists, journalists and the relatives of Kashmiris who had gone missing allegedly because of covert operations by security forces. Amnesty International India's rebuttal claimed that there were no anti-national songs, speeches or slogans at the event.
It pointed out that some of those who attended raised slogans referring to azaadi (freedom), while adding that Amnesty does not take a position on calls for self-determination, but considers the right to peacefully advocate political solutions a part of the right to free speech. The organisation also mentioned that it had invited the Bengaluru Police to the event and has shared footage of the proceedings with them.
Meanwhile, another advocacy organisation, Human Rights Defenders Alert-India, on Wednesday also appealed to the National Human Rights Commission to intervene in the sedition case against Amnesty International. HRDA called this the latest in a series of actions where state organisations have clamped down on civil society organisations and human rights groups critical of official policies.
Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah told ANI that the "law will take its own course" in the matter.