By The Wire Staff

New Delhi: The residence and office of Harsh Mander, ex-IAS officer, rights activist and commentator, is being raided by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) since the morning at 8 am. Four men from the CBI are inside his house at Delhi’s Vasant Kunj currently. The raids have been on since 8 am. Mander’s office is at Adhchini in the national capital.

In September 2021, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had carried out raids at Mander’s home in Vasant Kunj, his office in Adhchini, and a children’s home in Mehrauli which his organisation, the Centre for Equity Studies (CES), helped establish. Rights groups had spoken out strongly against these raids, terming them “harassment”.

In June 2023, the Union home ministry invoked Section 3 of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) to suspend CES’s FCRA license. The section bars any “correspondent, columnist, cartoonist, editor, owner, printer or publisher of a registered newspaper” from accepting any foreign contributions.

Mander, a former IAS officer, has been at the forefront of the campaign against communal disharmony in India and has been severely critical of the Modi government over the last ten years for allegedly fuelling majoritarian politics in the country. His NGO’s research work has also highlighted the government’s failings in insuring an equitable, safe India for all.

Central agencies have been under fire for focused attention on those who coincidentally are government critics, in the opposition or not aligned with the BJP’s political project. In a discussion with ex-chief minister of Jharkhand, Hemant Soren, senior advocate Kapil Sibal pointed out how without FIRs, those seen on the other side of the political divide are under the lens, whereas over 30 Central ministers (with criminal cases, declared in their election affidavits) are off the radar.

The Wire had earlier reported that there is a four-fold jump in ED cases since 2014; 95% of those cases are against opposition leaders. Almost 95% of the cases probed by the ED and the Central Bureau of Investigation against political leaders are from the opposition.

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