ABVP accuses NGO of anti-national activities.
International human rights NGO Amnesty International has closed its offices in India temporarily and asked its employees to work from home over safety concern for its staff following a police report.
Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student wing of the ruling BJP, has accused the NGO of creating a venue for separatist groups in Kashmir to raise anti-India slogans. ABVP alleged that anti-India slogans were raised at an event organized by Amnesty in Bengaluru on Saturday in solidarity with some people of Kashmir who were allegedly abused by armed forces.
The offices of Amnesty in Bengaluru, Pune, New Delhi, and Chennai will remain closed for some days. Similar programs scheduled for next week in New Delhi and Mumbai have also been postponed due to security issues.
ABVP had staged protests against Amnesty on Tuesday and Wednesday saying that the NGO is propagating anti-India sentiments. The student organization has also filed a complaint against the organization and the police have started an investigation into the issue.
“The allegations mentioned in the complaint are without any basis. The event was an open door event and people were coming and going. No staff members were involved,” said Himanshi Matta, Amnesty International India’s spokeswoman in India.
“They are preventing the families of victims of human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir from having their stories heard. And preventing civil society organizations from enabling these families to exercise their constitutional right to justice,” she added.
Several human rights organizations and activists came up in support of Amnesty India after the organization declared closure of its offices.
â€œThe government is investigating and I hope no charges will be framed,â€ Meenakshi Ganguly, director human rights watch, South Asia, told The Hindustan Times.
â€œBut the broader concern is that the anti-national narrative is picking up and we need to hear people raising slogans, which is a peaceful way as compared to (using a) gun,â€ she added.
Some alleged that the space for civil society and expressing dissent is shrinking in India under the governance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Modi government has tightened the rules for NGOs leading to the closure of about 10000 organizations that failed to submit a clear account of their foreign fund receipts.
â€œI donâ€™t think amnesty will close office in India. Police have received a complaint and registered it. I donâ€™t think action can be taken against the institution,â€ said Ravi Chellam, head of Greenpeace India, which had to close down its operations following a government investigation into its foreign fund receipts.
According to Meenakshi Ganguly, India is following the path of China where there is no space for freedom of expression and dissent.
â€œIndia should not try to replicate China where dissent is not allowed. The government boasts of democracy, the role of civil society to promote India as an attractive place for international investors. Using laws like sedition and allowing hecklers to shut down free expression will severely damage those claims,â€ she said.