Karnataka says law will take its course against Amnesty

Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah said an FIR had already been registered on sedition charge against Amnesty International India. He said after an enquiry, police would take action according to law. FIR or first information report is a document that initiates criminal proceedings.

On Tuesday, members of ABVP (Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad), took to streets demanding arrest of Amnesty International India officials for reportedly allowing anti-national statements at a event they organised on August 14 (Sunday) in Bengaluru. ABVP is the student wing of RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh). Amnesty is an NGO (non-government organisation) that works towards protection of human rights. It had organised the Sunday meeting on alleged rights abuse against families in Jammu and Kashmir. It has dismissed the allegations as "without substance". Amnesty says it has shared footage of the event with police and points out that journalist Seema Mustafa and its employee Sindhujaa Iyengar did not raise any slogans nor sang songs at the event. ABVP had raised an issue against Amnesty, saying calls for “azaadi (freedom)” were made at the event. Police have registered a case against Amnesty under sections of sedition, unlawful assembly, rioting, and promoting enmity.

Home ministry probe

The Union home ministry has launched a probe into the funding of the NGO, its expenses, and "possible" violation of Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act.

The probe is being carried out under the provisions of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) to find whether there was any violation of the laws by the India chapter of Amnesty International, a Home Ministry official said today.

"Merely organizing an event to defend constitutional values is now being branded 'anti-India' and criminalized," said Aakar Patel, executive director, Amnesty International India in a statement. "The filing of a complaint against us now, and the registration of a case of sedition, shows a lack of belief in fundamental rights and freedoms in India."

Amnesty claimed that among those who spoke at the event were the family of Shahzad Ahmad Khan, one of the men killed in the Macchil extrajudicial execution, whose trial led to conviction of five Army personnel who were sentenced to life imprisonment.

While ABVP and the Bharatiya Janata Party have alleged that Kashmiri Pandits were not invited for the event.

Amnesty International India said that it had also invited representation from the Kashmiri Pandit community in Bengaluru at the event to speak about the human rights violations faced by members of the community.

The NGO also said that towards the end of the event, some of those who attended raised slogans, some of which referred to calls for 'Azaadi' (freedom). However there was no clarification on what exactly were the slogan.

B S Yeddyurappa, the head of Karnataka unit of BJP has alleged that slogans were raised against the Indian Army and call for cessation of Kashmir from the Indian union.

"Indian army murdabad, go back Indian army go back, lenge lenge Bharath se azaadi lenge , Bharath se lenge azaadi azaadi," were the slogans raised at the event, said a letter from Yeddyurappa to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh.

The former chief minister, who is leading BJP in the upcoming assembly elections in Karnataka, claimed that there is video footage of the episode where anti-India slogans were raised.

The NGO said that as a matter of policy does not take any position in favour of or against demands for self-determination.

"However, Amnesty International India considers that the right to freedom of expression under international human rights law includes the right to peacefully advocate political solutions, as long as it does not involve incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence,\" the statement added.

The NGO also said that India's archaic sedition law has been used to harass and persecute activists and others for their peaceful exercise of their right to free expression.

MHA launches probe into "possible" FCRA violation by Amnesty New Delhi, Aug 16 (PTI) Amidst allegations of anti-India slogans being raised at an Amnesty event in Bengaluru, the Home Ministry has launched a probe into the funding of the NGO, its expenses and "possible" violation of FCRA by it.

The probe is being carried out under the provisions of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) to find whether there was any violation of the laws by the India chapter of Amnesty International, a Home Ministry official said today.

The NGO has not been registered under the FCRA and its application for registration under the FCRA is now under serious scrutiny following the Bengaluru event where anti-India slogans were allegedly raised during a discussion on Kashmir on Saturday.

The probe will see whether the India chapter of Amnesty International has received foreign funds and if so under what laws, other sources of funding, it expenses and patterns of expenses, the official said.

Amnesty International, on its part, has rejected as "without substance" the allegations made by ABVP, the student outfit of RSS, and claimed that none of its employees shouted any anti-India slogans at any point.

The NGO was booked under IPC sections, including sedition, by Bengaluru Police.

 


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