Amnesty International India shuts down, blames govt’s ‘reprisal’

New Delhi: Human rights group Amnesty International said on Tuesday it is stopping its work in India because the government has frozen its bank accounts in the latest action against it for speaking out about rights violations.
“The organisation has been compelled to let go of staff in India and pause all its ongoing campaign and research work,” the group said in a statement. “This is latest in the incessant witch-hunt of human rights organisations by the government of India over unfounded and motivated allegations.”
It said its bank accounts were frozen on Sept 10. Amnesty said it had highlighted rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir and riots in Delhi in recent days and the government had sought to punish it for that. There was no immediate response from government spokesmen to requests for comment.
Earlier, Delhi police are guilty of “grave human rights violations” during communal riots in the Indian capital earlier this year, and were even “active participants” in the violence, Amnesty International said.
The worst unrest in years between India’s majority Hindus and minority Muslims killed around 50 people, most of them Muslims, over several days of running battles in the city’s northeast in February.
A field investigation by Amnesty “has documented a disturbing pattern of grave human rights violations committed by the Delhi police during the riots”, the rights group said in a statement.
“These violations include police officers indulging in violence with the rioters; torturing in custody; using excessive force on protesters; dismantling sites of peaceful protests and; being mute bystanders as rioters wreaked havoc,” Amnesty said.
The group said it spoke to 50 riots survivors, eyewitnesses, lawyers, doctors, human rights activists and retired police officers. It also analysed several user-generated videos.
One such video showed officers “kicking and hitting a group of five wounded men… poking them with rifles and asking them to sing the Indian national anthem,” Amnesty said.
Six months on, there has been no investigation into the role of the police in the unrest, it added.
“This ongoing state-sponsored impunity sends the message that the law enforcement officials can commit grave human rights violations and evade accountability,” said an Amnesty executive director.–Agencies