October 25, 2018 / 5:57 PM / a month ago

India's financial crime watchdog raids Amnesty office

MUMBAI (Reuters) - The Indian federal agency that investigates financial crimes raided Amnesty’s southern India office on Thursday, a spokeswoman for the human rights watchdog said, in the latest crackdown on an international non-profit group in the country.

The raid was conducted on suspicion that Amnesty had violated foreign direct investment guidelines, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) said in statement, according to Reuters partner news agency ANI.

Officials began the raid at around 2 p.m. on Thursday, according to local media reports. At 11 p.m., the raid was still ongoing, Smriti Singh, a spokeswoman for Amnesty in India told Reuters.

“ED still in office. We are unable to contact the colleagues inside the office,” Singh said.

The scrutiny of the British-based organization comes amid tightening surveillance of non-profit organizations in the country since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took power in 2014.

At least 10,000 civil society groups including environmental NGO Greenpeace have had their licenses to receive foreign donations canceled or suspended.

The government says some of the groups used funds to engage in “anti-national” activities.

“The searches at Amnesty International’s offices are being conducted for violation of the FDI guidelines,” the ED said. “Further investigation is under way.”

The Enforcement Directorate, which is party of India’s Finance Ministry, did not reply to calls and an email seeking further comment.

Reporting by Zeba Siddiqui in Mumbai and Nigam Prusty in New Delhi; Editing by Alison Williams

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