An official raid on the home of a prominent human rights activist, Harsh Mander who is critical of the ruling BJP government has sparked outrage in India.
The investigators of India’s Enforcement Directorate has searched three locations connected to Mander in an alleged case of money laundering on Thursday.
The raids happened a day after Mander left for Berlin for a nine-month-long fellowship with the Robert Bosch Academy, according to an Indian website.
Mander has been a vocal critic of the governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for its handling of the coronavirus crisis and the government’s attack on freedom of the press in India.
The accused currently runs a campaign by the name Karwan-e-Mohabbat for the support of the victims of communal or religiously motivated violence.
These raids have sparked many activists across the country who see them as a part of the continuing chain of abuse from the state institutions to curb dissent. The lawyers and rights activists have called the move an attempt to “threaten, intimidate and silence” critics
A joint statement signed by more than 700 lawyers and activists said, “We condemn these raids to harass and intimidate leading human rights and peace activist who has done nothing but work for peace and harmony, consistently upholding the highest moral standards of honesty and probity.”
The signatories of the statement included economist Jean Dreze, historian Romila Thapar, women’s rights activist Kavita Krishnan, and filmmaker Anand Patwardhan, among other influential people.
Meenakshi Ganguly South Asia Director at Human Rights Watch said, “The Indian government’s raids appear intended to harass and intimidate critics, and reflect a broader pattern of trying to silence all criticism,”
In the past, The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been harshly criticized for his act of using governmental institutions to silence and suppress critics’ dissent.
On September 15 the tax authorities has searched the premises of actor Sonu Sood, alleging tax evasion on a real estate deal. Critics called the raid a politically motivated move.