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By Sanjeev Miglani
NEW DELHI, September 29 (Reuters) – Human rights group Amnesty International on Tuesday shut down its work in India, saying the government froze his bank accounts in the latest lawsuit against him for exposing rights violations.
The group said it had laid off staff after facing a crackdown over the past two years over allegations of financial wrongdoing which it said were unfounded.
“This is the latest in the Indian government’s relentless witch hunt by human rights organizations for unsubstantiated and substantiated allegations,” Amnesty said in a statement.
His bank accounts were frozen on September 10, he said.
Amnesty has highlighted human rights abuses in recent months in the disputed region of Jammu and Kashmir, as well as what it called lack of police accountability during riots in Delhi in February, and the government sought to punish her, he said.
There was no immediate response from government spokespersons to requests for comment.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has been accused of suppressing dissent, including in predominantly Muslim Kashmir, where insurgents have been fighting government forces for more than 30 years.
Critics also say the government is pushing a Hinduism-focused agenda, undermining the secular foundations of Indian democracy and sparking fears among its 170 million Muslim minority.
The government denies any prejudice against any community.
Opposition politician Shashi Tharoor said Amnesty’s exit was a blow.
“India’s stature as a liberal democracy with free institutions, including media and civil society organizations, has accounted for much of its soft power around the world. Actions like this undermine our reputation for democracy and vitiate our soft power, ”he said on Twitter. .
Amnesty said the federal financial crimes investigative agency, the Law Enforcement Directorate, had targeted her.
“The constant harassment from government agencies, including the Directorate of Rights Enforcement, is the result of our unequivocal calls for transparency in government, most recently for the accountability of the Delhi Police and from the Indian government regarding serious human rights violations in the riots in Delhi and Jammu and Kashmir. Said Avinash Kumar, executive director of Amnesty International India.
“For a movement that has only raised its voice against injustice, this latest attack is akin to freezing dissent,” he said.
Amnesty and other groups have accused police of complicity in riots in Delhi in which at least 50 people were killed, most of them Muslims.
Police have denied the allegation.
The government has stepped up oversight of foreign nongovernmental groups (NGOs), they say.
Last week, the government passed changes to the draft law amending the Foreign Contribution Regulations setting new conditions for organizations.
Some NGOs said that measures to strengthen control over funds were intended to create an air of distrust.
Kumar said more than four million Indians have supported Amnesty’s work over the past eight years, and around 100,000 Indians have donated money.