Vindictive govt in witch-hunt mode

The raids conducted by the CBI at the residence and offices of Supreme Court lawyers Indira Jaising and her husband Anand Grover in Delhi and Mumbai may be termed by the authorities as the law and its enforcement machinery taking their course. The BJP also, facing questions over the repeated actions of the enforcement personnel against them and Lawyers Collective, an NGO run by them which takes up human rights issues, has given the same answer. The Modi government’s and the BJP’s hostility towards NGOs, especially those working in the human rights field and related areas, is well known. A large number of them have been harassed and threatened and forced to shut down. Some of those which have faced the heat are organisations with high credentials and working for good causes, like Greenpeace and Amnesty International. The same hostile policy is seen in the action against the senior lawyers and their NGO. 

Grover has been charged with violations of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) rules. An FIR against him and the NGO was filed last month, which said there were discrepancies in the utilisation of foreign funds received by the organisation. The fact that some of the charges are claimed to have their origin as far back as 2006 shows the determination behind the CBI’s action. No one would believe that the agency acted on its own. It could only have been targeting the lawyers and their organisation on instructions from the political authority, as it has acted against many others, too, who are not in the good books of the government and the ruling party’s leadership. At the same time, it has also shut its eyes on bigger violations of the law and criminal conduct. The NGO’s documents had been inspected in 2016 and the questions had been answered. No proceedings were launched against it and the lawyers then or later, and suddenly there is action again. 

Grover, Jaising and the NGO have denied all charges. The NGO and the lawyers have been strong advocates of human rights, and Indira Jaising has appeared in many cases of victims, including those of the 2002 Gujarat riots. The action against her, Grover and the NGO can only be seen as part of the intimidation and harassment of those who oppose or even differ with the government. Political parties, individuals, organisations and even officials who don’t toe the line have all been targets. Wrongdoers are spared or protected if they are on the right side of the government or the ruling party or cross over to it. The freedom to dissent and to oppose is the casualty. 

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