Brute show of intimidation: Oppn MPs on raids 

Brute show of intimidation: Oppn MPs on raids 

Congress leader Anand Sharma. PTI file photo

Strongly condemning the CBI raids at the premises of senior lawyers Indira Jaising and Anand Grover, Opposition MPs on Thursday wrote to the prime minister, saying it is "nothing short of a brute show of intimidation" as well as "gross abuse" of power.

The letter said both the lawyers are well known for their "pioneering work" in the field of human rights and their NGO 'Lawyers Collective' have fully cooperated with the authorities ever since charges were filed against them in the alleged violation of rules related to foreign funding.

The Opposition MPs' move came hours after CBI conducted searches at the residences and offices of the lawyers and the NGO in Delhi and Mumbai on Thursday. The CBI had last month registered a case against the Lawyers Collective.

"This, latest in a long line of coercion and intimidation of Jaising and Grover, is nothing short of a brute show of intimidation as well as gross abuse of power...Despite the show of cooperation, the raids have taken place today are shocking," the MPs said.

The MPs, including Anand Sharma, Jairam Ramesh, D Raja, Binoy Vishwam, Sanjay Singh and Santanu Sen among others, "strongly urged" the government to halt such acts of "coercion and intimidation". MPs from Congress, Trinamool Congress, CPI(M), CPI, AAP and other Opposition parties signed the letter.

CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury accused the government of "targeting" Jaising and Grover. "While the law must take its course, brazen targeting of well known and respected senior advocates by the government via its agencies raises serious questions about its intentions," he tweeted.

Trinamool Congress national spokesperson Derek O' Brien tweeted, "the CBI raid at the residence of Indira Jaising and Anand Grover is yet another example of the many instances of vendetta. This govt is harassing citizens and all voices of opposition. This is a #SuperEmergency."

Separately, a group of academicians, artists and intellectuals condemned the raids and said the Lawyers Collective’s challenge to the FCRA cancellation and non-renewal are currently pending before the High Court.

"We, as citizens strongly urge that acts of intimidation and harassment against Mr Anand Grover, Ms Indira Jaising and Lawyers Collective stop immediately. The criminal charges against Lawyers Collective be immediately withdrawn pending the decision of the High Court of Bombay. Misuse of the country’s laws and the state machinery against human rights defenders come to an end," they said in a statement.

The statement was signed by economists Prabhat Patnaik and Jayati Ghosh, artist Vivan Sundaram, theatre personality M K Raina, historians Irfan Habib and D N Jha and filmmaker Saeed Mirza among others.

In another statement, Human Rights Defenders Alert – India (HRDA) said this was "not an isolated event, rather a pattern reflecting the approach" of the government towards non-governmental and civil society organisations, especially those who are critical of the government.