‘Glossy statements’: Home Ministry’s sharp comeback to Amnesty on ‘witch-hunt’ barb
The Union home ministry on Tuesday refuted claims made by Amnesty International India of a witch-hunt by the government, underlining that human rights cannot be an excuse for defying the law of the land.
In an official statement, the ministry said that “Amnesty is free to continue humanitarian work in India, as is being done by many other organisations.”
“However, India, by settled law, does not allow interference in domestic political debates by entities funded by foreign donations. This law applies equally to all and it shall apply to Amnesty International as well,” it said.
Taking a dig at Amnesty over its work, the home ministry statement added: ““All the glossy statements about humanitarian work and speaking truth to power are nothing but a ploy to divert attention from their activities which were in clear contravention of laid down Indian laws. Such statements are also an attempt to extraneously influence the course of investigations by multiple agencies into the irregularities and illegalities carried out over the last few years.”
The ministry said, “India has a rich and pluralistic democratic culture with a free press, independent judiciary and tradition of vibrant domestic debate.”
The statement said “Amnesty’s failure to comply with local regulations does not entitle them to make comments on the democratic and plural character of India.”
Accusing Amnesty of violating the law, the home ministry said the stand taken by the rights group and statements that blamed the government action for its decision to close down are “unfortunate, exaggerated and far from the truth.”
Giving a chronology of events, the home ministry said Amnesty International had received permission under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) only once and that too 20 years ago, on December 19, 2000. Since then, Amnesty International, despite its repeated applications, has been denied approvals for receiving foreign funds by successive governments in accordance with the law.
“In order to circumvent the FCRA regulations, Amnesty UK remitted large amounts of money to four entities registered in India, by classifying it as Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). A significant amount of foreign money was also remitted to Amnesty (India) without MHA’s approval under FCRA. This mala fide rerouting of money was in contravention of extant legal provisions,” it said.
“Owing to these illegal practices of Amnesty, the previous government had also rejected the repeated applications of Amnesty to receive funds from overseas.This had led Amnesty to suspend its India operations once during that period as well. This bipartisan and purely legal approach towards Amnesty, under different governments, makes it clear that the entire fault lies in the dubious processes adopted by Amnesty to secure funds for its operations,” said home ministry.