ED conducts searches on premises linked to Harsh Mander

Enforecemnt Directorate conducted searches at premises linked to human rights activist Harsh Mander. File   | Photo Credit: H.S. Manjunath

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on September 16 conducted searches on the premises linked to former Indian Administrative Service officer and social activist Harsh Mander in connection with a money laundering probe.

The searches were carried out at Adchini, Mehrauli and Vasant Kunj in south Delhi, hours after Mr. Mander left for Germany along with his wife for a six-month fellowship programme at the Robert Bosch Academy.

“The ED investigation is related to a First Information Report [FIR] registered by the Delhi Police’s Economic Offences Wing in February,” said a senior agency official.

The police instituted the case against two children’s homes and their parent body, Centre for Equity Studies, of which Mr. Mander is a director. It was based on a report submitted by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) last year, highlighting alleged financial irregularities. Mr. Mander’s name is not there in the FIR.

In February, the Mehrauli police registered an FIR under various provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act and the Indian Penal Code on a complaint from the NCPCR Registrar alleging violations.

NCPCR teams, in October 2020, conducted an inspection of children homes Umeed Aman Ghar and Khushi Rainbow Home in south Delhi.

Continuation of harassment: CES

In a statement, the Centre for Equity Studies (CES) confirmed the ED searching its office, Umeed Ghar and Mr. Mander’s residence. “This is a continuation of harassment and coercion of CES and Harsh Mander for being an outspoken and passionate defender of human rights,” it alleged.

The organisation said that over the past several months, it had been subjected to raids, investigation, and inquiries by different government agencies, including the Delhi Police, and the NCPCR.

“CES has cooperated with every government agency by providing all organisational details requested by the agencies, including balance sheets and other financial and programmatic documents,” it stated.

The CES asserted that it was committed to cooperating with the ongoing search and would provide any information needed by the ED. “...this continued harassment has created hurdles in the path of our organisational vision of working for the poorest of the poor and most marginalised sections of society,” it added.

The searches triggered sharp reactions from politicians.

Tharoor ‘shocked’

“I am shocked & dismayed to read of the ED raids on my friend and college batchmate harsh_mander...he is a person of unquestionable integrity & honesty, incapable of wrongdoing, almost too upright for the standards of today's India. This raid is a travesty,” tweeted Congress leader Shashi Tharoor.

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh tweeted: “One day after the International Day of Democracy, Modi Sarkar continues with its FDI obsession— Fear, Deception, Intimidation, by harassing a renowned activist and intellectual, Harsh Mander. And he gives lectures to others on inclusiveness and democracy!”

Activists, artists, writers condemn the move

Over 600 academics, advocates, activists, civil servants, writers, film makers, journalists, musicians, artists and others condemned the ED searches.

In a statement, they said the ED move was to harass and intimidate a leading human rights and peace activist who consistently upheld the highest moral standards of honesty and probity.

“The false and malicious allegations by the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) were definitively countered by the Delhi Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR), a statutory body, which has filed a strong affidavit in the Delhi High Court, putting an end to the false allegations against CES,” it said.

“The Constitution and the law of the land shall prevail, exposing these intimidatory tactics exactly for what they are — an abuse of state institutions to try and curtail all our rights,” read the statement.

Among the signatories were Romila Thapar, Rajmohan Gandhi, retired IPS officer Julio Ribero, Admiral Ramdas and Aruna Roy.

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Printable version | Oct 25, 2021 11:44:07 PM |

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