Mentioning the "incessant witch-hunt of human rights organisations" in India by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government, Amnesty International has stated that it has been compelled to halt its operations and let go of staff in India.
“The complete freezing of Amnesty International India's bank accounts by the government of India, which it came to know on 10 September, brings all the work being done by the organisation to a grinding halt", the agency said on Tuesday.
The Indian government alleged that the international agency has not registered itself under the country's Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act to keep track of the foreign funding.
The Indian Home Ministry earlier stated that Amnesty received money via Foreign Direct Investment, a medium prohibited in the case of non-profit organisations.
However, the watchdog has termed these allegations as "motivated and unfounded", maintaining that it is complying with the national and international norms.
It has linked the government actions to its reports that criticised the integration of Jammu and Kashmir into the Indian Union on 5 August last year, as well as the communal riots in Delhi in February this year.
Meanwhile, India's economic intelligence wing the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and top probe agency the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) have been conducting raids and scrutinising its operations in India for the past two years.
In 2018, the organisation's office in southern India's Bangalore was raided by the ED and accounts were frozen. However, they were made accessible after the watchdog sought a court intervention. Similar raids were also carried out by the CBI in 2019.
Earlier this month, the Indian government made more changes in the Foreign Contributions (Regulation) Act, 2010 [FCRA], which governs foreign philanthropic funding for India’s non-governmental organisations (NGOs). The activists termed the changes as a death-knell for the sector, while the government claims it introduces much-needed accountability.
The changes include a 20 percent cap on the percentage of funding that can be applied towards "administrative expenses" — which includes salary, travel expenditure, and rent; a restriction on using foreign funding to sponsor other organisations, and a requirement to receive all FCRA donations only through an account specially maintained in the State Bank of India, Delhi, irrespective of where the NGO is situated.