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NEW DELHI: A group of activists and intellectuals on Thursday condemned the Enforcement Directorate’s searches at human rights activist Harsh Mander‘s premises, saying the agency’s action was part of a “continuing chain of abuse of state institutions to threaten, intimidate and try to silence every critic” of the government.
In a joint statement, the group of over 25 activists and intellectuals said Mander, a retired IAS officer, had done nothing but work for peace and harmony.
The ED on Thursday conducted searches at Mander’s residence and NGO offices in south Delhi’s Vasant Kunj, Adchini and Mehrauli areas in connection with a money laundering investigation, official sources said.
The 66-year-old Mander, who has authored a number of books and writes newspaper editorials on subjects related to social justice and human rights, left for Germany along with his wife in the early hours of Thursday.
“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 (upheld) the highest moral standards of honesty and probity,” the statement said.
Those who signed the statement include former member of the Planning Commission of India Dr. Syeda Hameed, Economist Jean Dreze, Delhi University professor Apoorvanand, senior advocate Indira Jaising, general secretary of the All India Progressive Women’s Association Kavita Krishnan, secretary of Citizens for Justice and Peace Teesta Setalvad, and founder of NGO Anhad Shabnam Hashmi.
They said over the past year, Mander and his organisation, Centre of Equity Studies (CES), had been subjected to continued harassment by multiple state agencies.
“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,” they said.
The ED case is based on a Delhi Police Economic Offences Wing (EOW) FIR filed in February against the CES that runs two NGOs for children.
The police complaint was filed under sections 75 and 83(2) of the Juvenile Justice Act along with Section 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) of the Indian Penal Code on the complaint of the NCPCR registrar alleging violations in Umeed Aman Ghar and Khushi Rainbow Home in south Delhi, both established by the CES.
The NCPCR, the apex child rights body, had alleged that during the inspection of the two NGOs, many violations of the Juvenile Justice Act and various other irregularities, including the prevalence of child sexual abuse in one of the homes, were observed.
Mander had termed the allegation “unjustified”.
“The CES has also been subjected to harassment by the Economic Offences Wing and the IT department. All these vindictive efforts combined have shown neither diversion of money nor any violation of the law,” the statement said.
“The current raids by the ED and the 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,” it said.
“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,” the statement said.

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