India blocks funds for Amnesty International's local arm

The Indian government, continuing its persistent paranoia over the 'Foreign Hand', has frozen funding of nearly $500,000 to human rights group Amnesty International's local arm over supposed concerns about the source of some of the cash.

According to a report in the Indian Express, the union home ministry decided to prevent Amnesty India from receiving the money from its parent organisation in Britain after around a third of the overall amount was allegedly traced to an offshore trust.

The trust, based on the island of Gibraltar, was set up by a gambling tycoon who has been convicted of fraud in the United States, said the report.

Home ministry officials refused to comment, but the head of Amnesty India confirmed that the funds had been blocked. He added that the money had been earmarked for education projects.

"The law requires us to seek permission for funding," Amnesty India chief executive Anantha Padmanabhan said in a brief comment to a news agency. "Our purpose was clear and specific. We are working with 30 schools and we want to increase our reach to 300 schools."

In 2012, the Indian government had put a number of non-profit organisations, including some from Europe, on a watch-list over suspicions that they were diverting funds to fuel protests such as those against India's mega-nuclear power projects that pose deep threats to the environment.

Amnesty has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for its persistent campaign against human rights violations, and has been constantly critical of Indian security agencies and the Indian government for their human rights record.