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Govt treating HR bodies like ‘criminal enterprises’: Amnesty

New Delhi, Oct 26: Amnesty International India on Friday expressed serious concern over an Enforcement Directorate (ED) raid on its headquarters in Bengaluru, saying the Indian government was “treating” human rights groups like “criminal enterprises”.

“We could not agree more with the Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) when he says that periods of repression, like during the Emergency, have left a stain on India’s history. Sadly, those dark days are now casting a shadow over India again,” the rights group said in a statement.

“Government authorities are increasingly treating human rights organisations like criminal enterprises,” Amnesty India Director Aakar Patel said.

The ED on Thursday searched Amnesty India’s headquarters and Patel’s residence in Bengaluru for allegedly receiving Rs 36 crore foreign funds from overseas in violation of the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) guidelines.

According to Patel, the group of ED officers entered the office premises at around 1.30 p.m., and locked the gates.

“They ordered the staff to remain in office, shut their laptops, and told them not use their mobile phones,” he added.

The Amnesty statement added: “Over 40 lakh Indians have supported Amnesty India’s work over the last six years and around one lakh Indians have made a financial contribution.”

The organisation said that the ED also froze their bank accounts.

“Amnesty India is thus the latest target of the government’s assault on civil society in the country. The accounts of Greenpeace India were frozen earlier this month,” the statement added.