Activists criticise raids at Lawyers Collective offices

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New Delhi, July 19 (IANS) Activists on Thursday expressed dismay and disappointment over the raids carried out by the CBI at the Lawyers Collective’s offices and the residences of its founders Anand Grover and Indira Jaising, saying that “it is an attempt to muzzle civil society voices and assault on democracy and democratic values.”

The activists belonging to various sectors, including public health experts and representatives of marginalised communities, in a statement demanded to stop deliberate and illegal harassment of Lawyer’s Collective.

“The civil cociety stands firmly in their support and will take all necessary action to resist and challenge this arbitrary action by the government,” the activists said in the statement.

“We are deeply concerned that by targeting Lawyers Collective and its founding trustees — Indira Jaising and Anand Grover — a chilling message is being sent to the civil society to toe the line and curb dissent. We stand with the Lawyers Collective, Indira Jaising and Anand Grover and urge them to stay undeterred and continue to respond based on their Constitutionally guaranteed fundamental rights,” the statement said.

The activists appreciated the work of the Lawyers Collective in improving the lives of lakhs of people through legal advice and support and said that the Lawyers Collective’s doors have always been open for the weakest and the most marginalised, who needed refuge and hope in the judicial process.

The statement also said that if the whole world today acknowledges the strides India has made in articulating the law on HIV/AIDS (2017), it is because the Lawyers Collective found the resources and invested its expertise and its heart in trying to protect the rights of people living with HIV.

The statement was endorsed by A. Jayavathana of HIV Ullor Nala Sangam, Aaron Sunday of Nigeria-based African Network of Adolescents and Young Persons Development, Aarti from Mumbai-based Triveni Samaj Vikas Kendra and Abhijit Ghosh of Kolkata-based Komal Gandhar, among others.

The CBI on July 11 searched the residences of senior Supreme Court lawyer Indira Jaising and Anand Grover for alleged violation of Foreign Contribution (regulation) Act (FCRA) norms and claimed to have recovered incriminating documents.

The action came almost a month after the CBI registered a case against Mumbai-based NGO Lawyers Collective and its President Anand Grover for alleged violation of FCRA, criminal conspiracy and criminal breach of trust.

Jaising accused the government of targeting the couple for the human rights works they have done.

–IANS

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