Human rights activists and intellectualls have condemned raids by government agencies on former NAC member and noted civil rights activist Harsh Mander's home and offices on Thursday morning, calling them "intimidatory tactics" and an "abuse of state institutions to try and curtail all our rights".
In a statement released on Thursday, 29 activists and intellectuals, including the likes of Aruna Roy, Prof. Apoorvanand and Indira Jaising condemned the raids on Mander's home and offices.
ED officers raided offices of the Centre of Equity Studies (CES) – an institution headed by Mander – in Delhi and his home at Vasant Kunj. The IT department simultaneously raided one of the children’s shelter homes run by an allied institution – Ummeed Aman Ghar – in Mehrauli.
Mander had left home with his wife for Germany hours prior to the raids to join the Robert Bosch Academy for a fellowship.
"We condemn these raids to harass and intimidate a leading human rights and peace activist who has done nothing but work for peace and harmony, consistently upholding the highest moral standards of honesty and probity. Over the past year, Harsh Mander and the CES have been subjected to continued harassment by multiple state agencies," the statement said.
"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. CES has also been subjected to harassment by the Economic Offences Wing (EOW), and the IT department," it further said.
"All these vindictive efforts combined, have showed neither diversion of money nor any violation of the law. The current raids by the ED and IT department are to be viewed in this context, as part of a continuing chain of abuse of state institutions to threaten, intimidate and try to silence every critic of the present government. We stand with Harsh Mander and with each person associated with the Centre for Equity Studies. The Constitution of India 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," it added.
A report in The Tribune said that the ED registered a case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, against the former IAS officer. The ED action reportedly came after an FIR was filed against Mander by the Delhi Police.
Mander, who has been critical of the present NDA dispensation at the Centre, has also been named in a case pertaining to the riots in north-east Delhi last year where over 50 people lost their lives.
Condemning the “motivated, compromised investigation and vilification” of Mander, members of civil society, including academics, writers, rights activists and former civil servants, among others, had written a letter in solidarity with the former civil servant in June last year.
The letter came at a time when the Delhi Police had mentioned his name in the chargesheet filed in connection with the Delhi Riots. The letter mentioned that the Delhi Police has mentioned the names of Mander and other activists to “concoct” a chronology of the riots and create a “false narrative” around the same. The chargesheet in question said that Mander had “instigated the protestors” in a speech made in Jamia Millia Islamia on December 16, 2019.