It's work from home for Amnesty India as protests escalate

Amnesty International India has decided to keep its offices closed amidst rising anger against the charity's anti-India stance and support for militants in Jammu and Kashmir, and instead asked its staff to work from home.

An Amnesty India spokesperson said it has temporarily closed its offices and postponed events aimed at raising awareness of rights abuses in the wake of escalating protests, after it was slapped with sedition charges.

Protestors belonging to the Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad and its supporters have intensified their protests against the charity after its members shouted antinational slogan and called for Kashmir's independence.

The protestors were scheduled to gather at Amnesty's Indira Nagar office but foreseeing trouble, the charity decided to keep offices closed, at least until the protests abate.

Political activists have been holding demonstrations against the so-called human rights group on Tuesday and Wednesday, accusing it of inciting hatred against the state during an event it hosted in support of the militants fighting security personnel in Kashmir.

Police are investigating if "anti-India" slogans were raised at the event after receiving a complaint from the ABVP, the students wing of the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP).

Amnesty refuted all allegations of anti-national activity saying these were unsubstantiated, but admitted that slogans calling for Kashmir's independence were chanted by some people attending Saturday's seminar in Bengaluru.

"The allegations mentioned in the complaint are without any basis. The event was an open door event and people were coming and going. No staff members were involved," said Himanshi Matta, Amnesty International India's spokeswoman in India.

"They are preventing the families of victims of human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir from having their stories heard. And preventing civil society organisations from enabling these families to exercise their constitutional right to justice."

However, following protests by political activists in Bengaluru on Tuesday and in Delhi on Wednesday, Matta said the charity had decided to temporarily close its main office in the city, as well the liaison offices in Pune, New Delhi and Chennai.

Amnesty had planned similar campaigns in Mumbai and New Delhi next week, but has been postponed plans due to security concerns for the families and staff, she added.

Rights groups have for years accused Indian forces battling separatist insurgency in Kashmir of having too much power to deal with insurgants.