The chief of Amnesty International on Monday alleged that the Indian government was intimidating the rights group for voicing its concerns about the situation in Kashmir.
“The Modi government has made a very big attempt to crush Amnesty in India,” Kumi Naidoo, Amnesty International’s secretary-general, told AFP in an interview.
Naidoo added that the rights group would not be silenced. “On the Kashmir question, on various human rights questions in India itself, we are not intimidated,” he said. “While our colleagues in our Indian office are under stress, they are as committed, motivated and courageous as ever, if not more, as a result of the repression that we face.”
Earlier this month, the Enforcement Directorate had accused Amnesty’s local branch of violating foreign exchange regulations to the tune of over Rs 51 crore. The investigating agency’s showcause notice came after Amnesty International India criticised the Centre’s move to scrap Jammu and Kashmir’s special status. It had asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to immediately lift the communications blackout in the state and hold dialogue with the people of the state.
Last year, agencies had searched the rights group office in Bengaluru. Naidoo said Amnesty would survive in India because of the funding by local donors.
Jammu and Kashmir was put under prohibitory orders and an unprecedented communications blackout on August 5. Prohibitory orders are being lifted gradually but the communications blockade remains in some parts. Speaking about the situation in the Valley, Naidoo called it “a horrific thing” to block communications. “There are life-and-death issues associated with doing that,” he said. “Whether it is family members needing to communicate with each other, being able to go to the doctor’s, this is something that governments need to stop doing.”
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