- The offices were raided over alleged violation of foreign funding rules
- Amnesty India claimed it was being targeted for upholding human rights
- Centre has lately increased its surveillance on non-profit groups
Human rights group Amnesty India's offices in Bengaluru and Delhi have been raided by the CBI over alleged violation of rules involving foreign funding. Searches were conducted at three places in Bengaluru and one place in Delhi, the agency said in a statement.
"The CBI had registered a case on November 5 on a complaint received from the Home Ministry against Amnesty International India Pvt. Ltd, Indians For Amnesty International Trust, Amnesty International India Foundation Trust and others," the CBI said in a statement.
"It was alleged provisions of Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 and IPC were contravened by these entities by receiving foreign contributions from Amnesty International UK through Amnesty International India Pvt. Ltd," it added.
"Foreign contributions were received even though prior registration was denied to Amnesty International India Foundation Trust and other trusts under FCRA," it said.
Reacting to the agency's action, the group said it is being targeted for speaking out against human rights violations in the country.
"Over the past year, a pattern of harassment has emerged every time Amnesty India stands up and speaks out against human rights violations in India," Amnesty said in a statement.
"Amnesty India stands in full compliance with Indian and international law. Our work in India, as elsewhere, is to uphold and fight for universal human rights. These are the same values that are enshrined in the Indian Constitution and flow from a long and rich Indian tradition of pluralism, tolerance, and dissent," it added.
For the last few years, Amnesty India has been under the scanner of investigation agencies over alleged violation of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act. The human rights organisation's Bengaluru office was raided by the Enforcement Directorate last year.
"They were here for a few hours. They asked us a few questions and asked for a few documents. Whatever they wanted from us, we gave it to them. That is all we have to say for now. This is I think the fourth union government body that has come to pay us a visit. We will continue to cooperate with them and we have done absolutely nothing," Amnesty India chief Akaar Patel said today.
Last year, the premises of another international NGO, Greenpeace, were also raided by the Enforcement Directorate, weeks before its move against Amnesty.
Over the years, the BJP-led central government has increased surveillance on many non-profit groups, cancelling or suspending licences on charges of misreporting of donations.
In 2015, the Ministry of Home Affairs had put the New York-based Ford Foundation on a watchlist and suspended environmental campaigner Greenpeace's licence under the FCRA.