In August 2016, a case of sedition was filed against Amnesty India over allegations that anti-India slogans were raised at one of its events. Three years later, a court ordered the charges to be dropped.
In October 2018, the group’s offices in the southern city of Bangalore were raided by the Enforcement Directorate, which investigates financial crimes. Its accounts were frozen then too, but Amnesty says it was able to access them after seeking a court’s intervention.
In early 2019, the group says dozens of its small donors were sent letters by the country’s income tax department. And later in the same year, Amnesty’s offices were raided again, this time by the Central Bureau of Investigation, based on a case registered by India’s home affairs ministry.
Successive governments in India have been wary of foreign-funded non-profit organisations, particularly in the human rights field.
Amnesty had previously suspended its India operations in 2009
, because of what the group said was repeated rejection of their licence to receive funds from overseas. India was then ruled by a Congress-led government, which sits in opposition now.
Over the years rules surrounding receiving foreign funds have been tightened, and thousands of non-profit groups have been banned from receiving money from overseas.
Amnesty’s announcement comes amid growing concern over the state of free speech in India. The development, activists say, could dent India’s long-standing reputation of being a thriving democracy.
“India does not stand in good company with these moves it is making,” says Mr Khosla. “I hope people around the world sit up and take notice. We are doing this with a very heavy heart, and a deep sense of anguish and grief.”
The group, which operates in more than 70 countries, says it will continue to fight its legal cases in India.