In a strong response to the sedition charge against Amnesty International India for organising a panel discussion on human rights violations in Kashmir, the organisation’s Executive Director Aakar Patel said the filing of an FIR “shows a lack of belief in fundamental rights and freedoms in India”.
“Merely organizing an event to defend constitutional values is now being branded ‘anti-India’ and criminalized,” said Patel. “The police were invited and present at the event. The filing of a complaint against us now, and the registration of a case of sedition, shows a lack of belief in fundamental rights and freedoms in India.”
Saying that Amnesty International India does not take any position “in favour or against demands for self-determination”, Patel said the human rights organisation considers the right to freedom of expression under international human rights law.
Amnesty International India added that the country’s “archaic” sedition law has been used in the past to “harass and persecute” activists and others.
A panel discussion on Saturday turned chaotic as some “pro-freedom” Kashmiris, most of whom were youngsters and students, entered into heated arguments with a Kashmiri Pandit leader for hailing Indian Army.
The event was organised by Amnesty International India at United Theological College. Karnataka Home Minister G Parameshwara on Sunday said the intention and background of those involved will be investigated.
The FIR has been registered under IPC sections– 142 (being member of an unlawful assembly), 143 (whoever is a member of an unlawful assembly), 147 (rioting), 124A (sedition), 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony).