Amnesty’s glossy statement on humanitarian work a ploy to divert attention from their activities
New Delhi, Sep 30: A significant amount of foreign money was remitted to Amnesty (India) without the approval of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
The MHA issued a statement after Amnesty International India said that it had halted India operations. It has alleged that the operations have been halted due to a witch-hunt by the government.
In a post on its website, Amnesty said the complete freezing of Amnesty International India's bank accounts by the Government of India which it came to know on 10 September 2020, brings all the work being done by the organisation to a grinding halt.
The MHA went on to add that the stand taken and the statements made by Amnesty International are unfortunate and exaggerated.
Amnesty International had received permission under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) only once. The permission was granted on December 19, 2000.
Despite repeated applications, Amnesty was denied FCRA approval by successive governments and this was because it was not eligible under the law to get such approval.
However, in order to circumvent the FCRA regulations, Amnesty UK remitted large amounts of money to four entities registered in India, by classifying it as Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). A significant amount of foreign money was also remitted to Amnesty (India) without MHA's approval under FCRA, the MHA said in a statement.
This mala-fide rerouting of money was in contravention of extant legal provisions.
Owing to these illegal practices of Amnesty, the previous government had also rejected the repeated applications of Amnesty to receive funds from overseas.
This had 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.
All the glossy statements about humanitarian work and speaking truth to power are nothing but a ploy to divert attention from their activities which were in clear contravention of laid down Indian laws. Such statements are also an attempt to extraneously influence the course of investigations by multiple agencies into the irregularities and illegalities carried out over the last few years.
Amnesty is free to continue humanitarian work in India, as is being done by many other organizations. However, India, by settled law, does not allow interference in domestic political debates by entities funded by foreign donations. This law applies equally to all and it shall apply to Amnesty International as well.
India has a rich and pluralistic democratic culture with a free press, independent judiciary and tradition of vibrant domestic debate. The people of India have placed unprecedented trust in the current government. Amnesty's failure to comply with local regulations does not entitle them to make comments on the democratic and plural character of India.