A day after the Income Tax department conducted searches at premises of the think tank Centre for Policy Research, Bengaluru-based Independent and Public-Spirited Media Foundation and global NGO Oxfam India, Amnesty International on Thursday, September 8, said this is yet another “blatant” example of how investigative agencies have been “weaponised” to harass and intimidate independent critical voices. Indian authorities must immediately stop these “tactics of repression” and ensure that civil society organisations are able to operate without the fear of reprisal in the country, it said in a statement.The I-T department on Wednesday, September 7, conducted raids and surveys in various states in separate cases related to alleged tax evasion, Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act violations, and illicit funding of registered unrecognised political parties, official sources said.Yamini Mishra, South Asia regional director at Amnesty International, said, “The coordinated raids, which are being presented as ‘surveys’, carried out by the Income Tax department against multiple civil society organisations are yet another blatant example of how financial and investigative agencies of the government have been weaponised to harass, intimidate, silence, and criminalise independent critical voices in the country.””It is alarming how the attack on the rights to freedom of expression and association by the authorities keeps growing unabated every day in India,” she said in a statement. Mishra said the raids were a “heavy-handed attempt by the government to instill fear among the staff, supporters and funders of these organisations, and to impose a chilling effect to silence civil society at large”.Previously, the offices of Amnesty International India and Greenpeace India were raided by various central agencies.”These raids, which constitute intrusive scrutiny and burdensome administrative requirements, are a violation of the rights to association and to privacy protected under international human rights law. Authorities must ensure that any processes undertaken to ensure transparency and accountability from organisations are not arbitrary and are non-discriminatory,” Mishra said.Read: Digipub strongly condemns I-T raids on Centre for Policy Research, Oxfam and IPSMF

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