Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Tuesday called on the centre to ban Amnesty International from operating in India, accusing it of conspiring to “defame PM Modi”.
The Chief Minister claimed Amnesty – one of the world’s most recognised human rights advocates – had a “long history of hatching conspiracies against India’s democratic fabric and its leadership.”
“I strongly condemn this conspiracy and demand a ban on activities of such organisations which are hell-bent on defaming and harming our nation,” he declared.
“We all know the role Amnesty (plays) to encourage left-wing terrorism in India and defame India and PM Modi… it is an international conspiracy… Their main work is to create dissatisfaction among the sections of Indian society,” Mr Sarma said.
Amnesty and the Indian government have clashed repeatedly in the past year over allegations of illegal foreign funds and that it never registered under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act.
Amnesty has said it is compliant with all Indian and international laws required to receive funds.
In February the Enforcement Directorate attached movable properties worth Rs 17.66 crore as part of a money laundering probe. This was after multiple raids on its India’s offices, and freezing of bank accounts in September last year, which forced it to let go of dozens of staff members.
In a statement Amnesty said: “…the complete freezing of Amnesty International India’s bank accounts by the government of India… brings all the work being done to a grinding halt.”
“This is the latest in the incessant witch-hunt of human rights organisations by the government of India over unfounded and motivated allegations,” the statement added.
“The continuing crackdown on Amnesty International India over the last two years and the complete freezing of bank accounts is not accidental. The constant harassment by government agencies, including the Enforcement Directorate, is a result of our unequivocal calls for transparency in the government. For a movement that has done nothing but raise its voices against injustice, this latest attack is akin to freezing dissent,” Amnesty said.
Amnesty has linked all action against it to reports critical of the Narendra Modi government, including those that raised questions on alleged rights violations during the riots in Delhi in February and in Jammu and Kashmir after the abrogation of Article 370.
The centre responded saying that human rights could not be an excuse to defy the law of the land.