November 15, 2019 / 5:18 PM / a month ago

India's federal police raid local Amnesty International offices

MUMBAI (Reuters) - India’s federal investigating agency raided the local offices of human rights group Amnesty International on Friday, the Central Bureau of Investigation said, in a probe into alleged violations of foreign funding rules.

“It was alleged that the provision of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act 2010 and Indian Penal Code were contravened,” the federal agency, known as the CBI, said in a statement, adding that the Indian arm received contributions from Amnesty International UK despite government restrictions.

The raids were conducted at Amnesty International’s offices in Bengaluru and New Delhi after the CBI registered a case against the group based on a complaint from India’s Home Ministry, the statement added.

Amnesty, which has criticized some actions of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government in the past, was also accused of violations of foreign funding rules last year.

“Over the past year, a pattern of harassment has emerged every time Amnesty International India stands up and speaks out against human rights violations in India,” the group said in a statement.

Amnesty accused Modi’s government of violations of human rights in Kashmir after it revoked the constitutional autonomy of the disputed state in August and came down heavily on protesters in the aftermath.

The rights group also criticized the government’s recent move to revoke the overseas Indian citizenship of British writer Aatish Taseer, calling it “discrimination based on gender and ethnic or national origin”.

India has tightened surveillance of non-profit organizations in the country since Modi took power in 2014, with thousands of civil society groups having their licences to receive foreign donations canceled or suspended.

India’s financial crime investigating agency, the Enforcement Directorate (ED), froze bank accounts of environmental watchdog Greenpeace India last year, forcing the organization to cut its staff to a bare minimum.

Amnesty International’s bank accounts were also frozen by the ED last year.

Reporting by Promit Mukherjee; Editing by Alex Richardson

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