Amnesty International India on Friday confirmed that Enforcement Directorate officials had searched its Bengaluru office for 10 hours on Thursday, finishing only at midnight. “Our staff fully cooperated with the officials,” the global human rights non-governmental organisation tweeted.
The searches were conducted under the Foreign Exchange Management Act, and the agency is looking at a possible and alleged violation of the law linked to an earlier investigation into the organisation’s foreign funding.
“After Amnesty International India Foundation Trust was denied permission under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, they resorted to bypass the FCRA by floating a commercial entity in the name of Amnesty International India Pvt Ltd,” a statement by the investigating agency said according to PTI. “This entity has received foreign funds through commercial route to the extent of Rs 36 crore till date.” Of this, Rs 10 crore was received as long-term loans.
However, on Friday, the NGO said: “We reiterate, our structure is compliant with Indian laws.” “ED raid on Amnesty India shows a disturbing pattern of the government silencing organisations that question power,” the NGO added. “It is clear that the government wants to instill fear among civil society organisations.”
On Wednesday, Amnesty International India had sought an “independent, impartial” investigation into the deaths of seven civilians in Kulgam during a gunfight between Indian security forces and suspected militants on October 21. It said that those responsible for the deaths should be “brought to justice”.