'Human Rights Cannot Be An Excuse For Defying Law Of The Land': Home Ministry Slams Amnesty For 'Witch-Hunt' Accusation
The government on Tuesday (29 September) slammed the controversial outfit Amnesty International for making "exaggerated" and untrue claims for closing down of its India operations and said that "human rights cannot be an excuse for defying the law of the land".
In a statement issued on its website on Tuesday, Amnesty India said it has decided to shut its shop in India following the “complete freezing” of its bank accounts by the Modi government, and called it a “witch-hunt”.
“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 organization to a grinding halt,” it said.
“The organisation has been compelled to let go of staff in India and pause all its ongoing campaign and research work,” the statement read.
In a response to Amnesty International's claim of "witch-hunt" by the Modi government, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said that the stand taken and the statements made by Amnesty International are unfortunate, exaggerated and far from the truth.
Elaborating on the facts of the matter, the MHA said, "Amnesty International had received permission under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) only once and that too twenty years ago (19.12.2000). Since then Amnesty International, despite its repeated applications, has been denied FCRA approval by successive governments since as per law it is not eligible to get such an 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), the ministry said.
A significant amount of foreign money was also remitted to Amnesty (India) without MHA’s approval under FCRA. 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," the MHA said.
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," the MHA said.
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, it said.
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 MHA said.
It added that the people of India have placed unprecedented trust in the current government and slammed Amnesty, which failed to comply with local regulations, for making comments on the democratic and plural character of India.
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