Amnesty clarifies, says its employees did not raise anti-India slogans
BENGALURU: Amnesty International's India chapter today said none of its employee had shouted any anti-India slogan at an event on Kashmir in Bangaluru, allegations based on which sedition charges were slapped against the human rights body.
Amnesty India said allegations mentioned in a complaint by an ABVP representative against it were "without substance" and that only discussion at the event on Saturday was about allegations of human rights violations and denial of justice in Jammu and Kashmir.
Local police had slapped sedition charges against Amnesty International India yesterday following allegations that anti-India slogans were raised at the event, organised by it, during a discussion on Kashmir issue.
"No Amnesty International India employee shouted any slogans at any point," the human rights organisation said in a statement referring to allegations that "slogans were raised that Indian Kashmir should be part of Pakistan."
To charges that the event indirectly supported terrorists, Amnesty said the only discussion that had taken place was about allegations of human rights violations and the denial of justice to families in Kashmir.
"These are issues that have regularly been discussed in the media. They have been written about at length by members of Parliament, politicians, judges and civil society,"it said.
The event was held as part of a campaign based on the report "Denied: Failures in accountability for human rights violations by security force personnel in Jammu and Kashmir", published in July 2015, it said.
Amnesty said the report was based on in-depth research in Jammu and Kashmir, including interviews with family members of "victims", RTI applications, examination of police and court records, and interviews with civil society groups, lawyers, and government officials.
The families of three Kashmiri victims that were interviewed for the report were invited to share their stories at the event, said Amnesty.
About allegations that some people at the event tried to assault ABVP activists, it said, "No Amnesty International India employee was involved in any form of assault."
"Towards the end of the event, some of those who attended raised slogans, some of which referred to calls for 'Azaadi' (freedom). Amnesty International India as a matter of policy does not take any position in favour of or against demands for self-determination.
"However, Amnesty International India considers that the right to freedom of expression includes the right to peacefully advocate political solutions. Amnesty International India had invited the Bengaluru police to be present at the event in the interest of the security of the invited families and other attendees," the statement said.
About allegations that Sindhujaa Iyengar, an Amnesty employee, and two others raised raised anti-national slogans, it said Iyengar was not present on stage at any point during the event.
Amnesty said footage of the event has been shared with the police.
The rights body said Amnesty has worked extensively on human rights violations in Pakistan, including "the enforced disappearances and unlawful killings of political activists in Balochistan, violations by security forces in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), and violence against journalists by groups including the ISI".
Asked about reports that "anti-India" slogans were also raised by some students at the Sri Siddhartha Institute of Technology in Tumkuru, 70 km from here, with which the Home Minister is associated, Parameshwara said an FIR had been registered in that case also and police were investigating it.
"One security fellow says I don't understand what they (students) said. We don't know at this stage - it is not very clear. There (Tumkuru) also an FIR has been registered and they are looking into it," he said.
Asked if any action has been suggested against the culprits, he said action would be taken as per the law.
"No, no, no. I will go according to law. Action will be taken according to results obtained from police investigation.
Beyond that I don't think I can do anything," he said.
Asked whether the government had swung into action due to the central government's pressure, Parameshwara denied such reports, saying the government has its own duty to fulfil.
"It is not like that. Why should the Centre force us to register a simple FIR?. I don't think so. We have our own duty to fulfil. If there is any such case, naturally the law will take its own course and police definitely work under those laws," he said.
Simha said there has been no FIR filed against Kashmiris who raised the slogans, but only against Amnesty International.