Indian Americans slam prosecution of Amnesty India Chair Aakar Patel
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, DC (April 13, 2022) – The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), an advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos, today condemned the Indian government’s sanctions to prosecute activist and head of Amnesty International India, Aakar Patel.
On Tuesday (April 12, 2022), the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) told a New Delhi court that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government had granted its approval to prosecute Patel as well as Amnesty India for alleged financial crimes. Patel and Amnesty have vehemently denied the accusations that they violated the Foreign Contributions Regulation Act (FCRA) by receiving foreign funding.
“The hounding of Aakar Patel is typical of the crackdown by the Modi government on civil rights activists, human rights defenders, and social and religious minorities,” Rasheed Ahmed, Executive Director, IAMC, said in the statement. “The illegal action against Mr. Patel is part of India’s targeting of Amnesty International.”
News reports on Tuesday said the Indian Government had issued a “look out circular” (LOC) against Patel, which ensures that an individual under the watch of law enforcement agencies is not able to leave the country. Patel has said he was not aware of a LOC against him.
Patel has been denied from leaving India twice, the most recent of which was just days ago at Bangalore airport. This came despite a judicial order which permitted him to travel to the US for speaking engagements.
He was scheduled for multiple conferences on the use of social media as a tool for advocacy and political change. The prestigious organizations that Patel was to visit on his trip University of Michigan, The University of Berkeley, and New York University,
Amnesty International said there was no legal basis for the law enforcement action against Patel. “For Aakar, who dares to raise his voice peacefully and consistently against injustice, a travel ban is nothing but retaliation from the Indian government against his activism. It must be immediately revoked,” said Kyle Ward, Deputy Secretary-General of Amnesty International.
Patel has been a vocal critic of Modi since the time Modi was Chief Minister of Gujarat from 2001-2014.
IAMC calls upon the court to dismiss the false case against Patel and Amnesty International.