Amnesty International India (AII) has temporarily shut its offices and postponed events in the country due to safety concerns for its staff members. The move comes following violent protests carried out by Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) activists after "anti-India" slogans were allegedly raised at an event organised by AII in Bengaluru on Saturday.
AII offices in New Delhi, Pune and Chennai have also been shut temporarily due to protests by activists in Bengaluru on Tuesday and in Delhi on Wednesday. Events that were supposed to be held in Delhi and Mumbai next week have also been postponed over safety concerns for staff members.
ABVP has accused the human rights organisation of sedition, claiming that they called for Kashmir's independence at the event held at the United Theological College in Bengaluru last week. The event was organised to discuss the issue of human rights violations in violence-hit Kashmir.
The police said that they are investigating the matter. AII denied allegations against the organisation, calling them unjustified, according to Reuters. However, the organisation admitted that some people who attended the event chanted slogans calling for Kashmir's independence.
"The allegations mentioned in the complaint are without any basis. The event was an open door event and people were coming and going. No staff members were involved... They are preventing the families of victims of human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir from having their stories heard. And preventing civil society organisations from enabling these families to exercise their constitutional right to justice," Himanshi Matta, Amnesty International India's spokesperson, was quoted by Reuters as saying.
Meanwhile, Common Cause, an NGO run by senior advocate Prashant Bhushan, filed a petition in the Supreme Court along with anti-nuclear activist SP Uday Kumar on Wednesday asking it to lay down guidelines to stop the misuse of sedition laws in the country.
A panel discussion, organised by AII on Saturday, turned chaotic after some "pro-freedom" Kashmiris, comprising mostly youngsters, got into a heated argument with a Kashmiri Pandit leader for praising the Indian Army, according to local media reports.
An FIR was lodged against AII by ABVP activists at the JC Nagar Police Station on Monday. The complainants also submitted video footage of the event. The footage is currently being examined by the forensic department.