Indian Americans condemn sham investigation of prominent Indian activist Harsh Mander
WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 21, 2023) – The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group dedicated to pluralism and democracy, condemns the Indian Central Bureau of Investigation’s (CBI) threats and intimidation of Aman Biradari, the NGO founded by leading human rights activist, peace worker, and writer Harsh Mander.
Founded in the wake of the Gujarat Pogrom of 2002, in which an estimated 2,000 predominantly Muslim Indians were slaughtered by Hindu supremacist mobs, Aman Biradari has since then advanced peaceful, non-violent, pluralist movements led by women and youth.
The CBI inquiry of Aman Biradari was announced on Monday by India’s Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) over the allegations that the group violated the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act. This law regulates the foreign funds received by non-profits.
“This brazen attack is shocking and in line with the pattern of fabricated allegations against many NGOs, activists and journalists” said IAMC Executive Director Rasheed Ahmed. “The message from this witchhunt is clear: if you criticize Hindutva or Modi’s discriminatory policies, the Indian government will shut you down, using any and all tools at their disposal similar to raids on BBC offices.”
The announcement of the inquiry follows a well-established pattern of sham tax raids and legal intimidation tactics already used by the Modi regime to silence organizations such as the BBC, Amnesty International, Oxfam, Greenpeace, Citizens for Justice and Peace, The Wire, NDTV, The Caravan, Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society and numerous other media and human rights groups.
Harsh Mander has a long history as an advocate for poor and oppressed minority communities in India. He is the Director of the Centre for Equity Studies, served as Special Commissioner to the Supreme Court of India in the Right to Food Campaign, and has convened government working groups on the Food Security Bill, the Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation Bill, Child Labour Abolition, Urban Poverty and Homelessness, Disability Rights, Bonded Labour, Street Vendors, and Urban Slums, the Communal and Targeted Violence Bill, Dalits and Minorities and Tribal Rights, among others.
“The United States must condemn the authoritarian repression of dissent taking place every day in India,” said IAMC Executive Director Ahmed. “The State Department and Secretary Antony Blinken must designate India a Country of Particular Concern and do everything in its power to stop India’s descent into an authoritarian country.”