Amnesty International’s Christine Mehta: Proud to break the law

If Ms. Mehta was not informed about these procedures then she has every right to complain.

Broke the law, and proud of it. That seems to be the attitude of Christine Mehta, an employee of Amnesty International who as an American citizen applied and received the status of an OCI.

In an article in the Hindu on 2 July 2015, Ms. Mehta, described the situation in which her OCI card was revoked and she had to leave India.

Of course if it was an unfair reason we would’ve been supportive of her ordeal and sympathised with her. But it seems the revocation of her OCI status was due to the officials in the GOI being miffed with her research work which she did in Jammu and Kashmir, regarding the sensitive issue of AFSPA.

But what is this? It seems she is complaining about the GOI upholding the law which she knowingly broke in conducting her research, as she states-

…….when Amnesty International decided to move me to a research position, we discovered a restrictive clause listed on India’s Bureau of Immigration website stating that OCI and PIO were prohibited from conducting “research, missionary or mountaineering activities without the prior permission of the Government of India.” As I was being hired to research abuse of power and human rights in Jammu and Kashmir, there was a debate about the consequences I might face, including deportation and loss of my overseas citizenship status…..There are hundreds of PIO and OCI cardholders who have been working as journalists, development workers, and researchers in India without any problems. The provision seemed outdated. The AII management was confident that the United Progressive Alliance government wouldn’t use the little-known and apparently rarely used provision against me. It decided that attempting to apply for permission would only draw unnecessary attention to my work, and invite the government to deny permission outright. ….

So Ms. Mehta did what she thought was the right thing- knowingly break the law. After all, in her warped reasoning, laws are meant to be broken.  The laws in question are as under:

i. Can  a  person registered as an OCI travel  to  protected  area/restricted area  without permission?

 A: No. He/she will be required to seek PAP/RAP for such visits

 ii. Can an OCI holder undertake Research work in India?

 A: Yes, after getting prior approval/special permission from MHA.

 iii. What are the consequences of furnishing  wrong information or  suppressing material information?

 A: All the applications will be subject to  pre  or post enquiry depending on whether any adverse information is voluntarily  reported in the application or not.  If the Government comes  to  the  know that any false information was  furnished or material information  was  suppressed, the registration as OCI already granted shall be cancelled by an order under section 7D of the  Citizenship Act, 1955. The persons will also be blacklisted thereby banning his/her entry into India.

(All the details are available in the website of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. Head here.)

j&KTo use a baseball term, strike three and you are out. If Ms. Mehta was not informed about these procedures then she has every right to complain and accuse the government of misconduct. Yet her employers and she herself knowingly decided that since the law is rarely used, it can be defied. Just because the law is little-known and rarely used, it no way gives Amnesty International the comfort of bypassing it. Now Ms. Mehta’s research was related to human rights in Jammu and Kashmir which  automatically falls in  the domain of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) . It should be clarified that AFSPA is an Enabling Provision to employ the soldier in a situation where the Policeman fails as elaborated in an earlier article:

….The Police has 24x7x365 permission to arrest anyone (except women, after darkness falls) with a warrant. In a scenario like J&K, this is extended to Army and other Security Forces to enable their deployment. The warrant, obviously has been done away with considering the fact that magistrates are virtually tethered to the safe areas of cities. The Police has the authority to arrest the delinquent….In J&K, this is extended to the Army and other Security Forces, but with a firm rider–the delinquent man shall be produced before the Police within 24 hrs plus travelling time. Any citizen facing death due to the action of any other person, has the sanction of the law to take appropriate action, even to the extent of causing the attacker’s death. Since our Policemen and Security Forces face such situations on a regular basis, they are provided weapons and ammunition for the purpose. The Police has the power to search a premise or a vehicle, which, is also provided to Security Forces in J&K. Where the Police fails and the Army scores over all the other forces is its provisions to prosecute the errant. The Army usually takes 80-120 days to complete an inquiry, summarise the evidence and subject the errant to a Jury-based process a la American Courts, called the Court Martial. ….

The last part is where Ms. Mehta’s employer Amnesty International claims violence is committed by the Indian state on the innocent J&K residents. But that is also the place where their bias becomes overt. They all speak of the situation harrowing in Kashmir since the 1990’s, not caring to gloss over the tormenting times in 1989-90 when Kashmiri Pandits were intimidated by jihadi sympathizers shouting  “Asi gacchei Pakistan, battaw rostiy; battaneo saanWe want Pakistan, without Pandit men; with Pandit women” followed by one of the worst ethnic cleansings carried out in post-independent India .

Indeed in Amnesty’s report on Kashmir which is close to seventy two pages, Kashmiri Pandits are given only two lines. This shows the concern AI has for the thousands of Kashmiri Pandits who were forced to leave their homes. Even now, thousands of refugees are languishing in uninhabitable refugee camps. Also notice Amnesty’s treatment of the armed jihadis as this image posted by journalist Shiv Aroor showed-


Shiv aroor

So that’s what they are now? Armed opposition groups?  Not terrorists? Are the ISI supported militants not non-state actors raising havoc? The report speaks of AFSPA but does it elaborate why it was brought in the first place?

Accepted the life of the average Kashmiri Muslim is not smooth but the root cause for this is the band of separatists led by the likes of Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Yasin Malik. As can be seen in the featured image of this article Ms. Mehta is conversing with Yasin Malik. So, can we assume that Amnesty International considers jihad sympathisers Geelani-Malik as human rights evaluators?

Not surprising since it is known that in February 2010, Amnesty suspended one of their famed members Gita Sahgal, it’s the then gender unit head, after she criticised her employers for its links with Moazzam Begg, who in Sahgal’s words is Britain’s most famous supporter of the Taliban. Amnesty’s then Secretary-general Claudio Cordone, claimed that defensive jihad was not antithetical to human rights. But security forces of an independent, sovereign nation should be criticized for protecting their country since democracy allows that!

Moving beyond Amnesty’s double standards, it needs to emphasized that Amnesty and its employee Christine Mehta knowingly broke the laws and faced the obvious outcome. Equally, it also brings into question the standing of THE HINDU which, even after knowing Mehta’s blatant disregard for Indian laws published her account as an “Exclusive.”

  • mak

    UH huh Americans teaching people about human rights violation.

  • parry

    why they have to sensationalize and publish such a sensitive report in media ?? Why they cant share with government and form a lobby to make positive actions if they really want a change ? Needless to say such reports against a state could be from false stories from anti national people. There is no way these journalist can authenticate these stories. Modi govt is doing absolutely right to hold errant journalist accountable for such careless actions.

  • P. B. Josh

    She is a lady Bobby Jindal who hates to be known as Indian American. I bet she got OCI card just so she can come to India any time she wanted. Those who willingly, knowingly break Indian laws and especially those who treat them as celebrities should be branded as anti-nationals, traitors. ‘The Hindu’ is one of those traitors.

  • Invictus Jo

    When you have a good case you don’t need abuse to discredit the woman …

  • Dr. MS

    May I know what Amnesty International is doing to help the people of Okinawa who do not want an American military base in their island? Military base is not only continuing, since its construction in the 1940s on the island, but it is now trying to expand and consume the whole island. This is outraging the people of Okinawa. Some are even proposing seceding from Japan over this – as they fear that Japan is becoming not an ally of the US but a colony of the US.

    The American militarism is dividing countries, pitting once united happy people against each other and is giving good leaders a bad reputation while Islamic fundamentalism and Jihadism continues and becomes global..

    So…what is Amnesty International doing about this…in stead of meddling in affairs that have nothing to do with true peace, and integration or collaboration among truly free nations pursuing security, welfare and wealth?

    People like Ms Mehta, who, or whose family, go from Ahmedabad to Staten Island or New Jersey, without much greater and broader knowledge about India or the US or the world, need to see beyond their narrow American or Indian or Indian-American ethnocentricism and brainwashed propaganda.

    Multiculturalism is not just about living with people who are diverse in New York or New Jersey…it is a state of mind. And lot of minorities and non-minorities in the United States do not have that State of Mind.

  • suru

    Nice article.
    Ms.Christine Mehta is lucky in a way she was carrying her work in India, Had she carried similar work in China, god knows what would have happened to her. Like we read in newspapers, she wouldn’t be seen nor heard for a decade. So unquestionable laws of Chinese government. Government Of India is so soft on her.
    Standing of the “The Hindu” is well known..Read some where that it is to some extent funded by Christian organisation.

    • Vedantham Srinivasan

      the Hindu is good for Obituaries

  • Seel

    Terror sponsors are so glad to see India without debate made PIO (second generation) same as OCI (born in Indai) status, this was a very bad decision by GOI. Many overseas agencies going to send these PIO holders to India for anti India and sabotage activities.

  • Dr. MS

    When commentators use obscene language on these websites they give weapons to the other side that shows Indians or Hindus, or those who question a particular aspect of Amnesty International as biased or illegal, as “unreasonable, crude, crazy, vindictive and racist”. No need for any obscene language from anyone with national symbols or labels (like Indian, etc…)…ultimately trying to drag a sensible investigation or analysis down.

    The author is right in trying to show that the GOI was not attacking or harassing Ms Mehta, who has done some very good work in the US regarding “minority rights” , and the mistreatment of some minorities in the US (which she should continue). The GOI was merely following laws that are particularly important in sensitive areas concerning “national security, safety of the public and protection of people’s rights”, in places like J & K, which got violated by Ms Mehta.

    Not only did Ms Mehta, who should know better, violated important laws, but she herself put herself in a dangerous position…If something had happened to her in J & K she would have sued the GOI and caused another melodrama. In fact Ms Mehta should not only apologize for her actions, as any sensible AI worker, activist or advocate should for violating national laws, but she should thank GOI for protecting her by taking her away from a very risky area.

    I would encourage Ms Mehta apologize to the GOI for her actions, as any sensible AI worker, activist or advocate must for violating a country’s laws, but she should also thank GOI for protecting her by taking her away from a very risky area.
    There are mature sensible people in the UPA, including Congress, who agree with this.

  • Amak4u

    Kick her out and never allow to enter India again.

  • Jaya

    So if she has broken the law should she not be prosecuted under law? Also if she ahs done it under the aegis of Amnesty international and produced such a biased report – should not Amnesty be ordered to shutdown its office in the country? Why are they still being allowed to operate? Since they are very clearly batting for Pakistan like the BBC? Can Amnesty International say one single word against the Pentagon and US army in the USA? They will be thrown in jail on charges of treason if the US Army takes offence!! Yet Indian political leadership allows organizations like this to do whatever they want with impunity in India!!

  • Aparna

    Excellent follow up! The travesty is that when the Govt is doing its job of following rules, it is being questioned! Can happen only in “secular India.” Thank you India Facts for reporting this – didnt see this much anywhere else!

  • It is about time the Government of India cracks down on the Americans of Indian origin who misuse their PIO cars to discredit India in the eyes of the world. If women like Mehta are so humane and upright let tme use their considerable research and communication skills to research race violence, police brutality, unrestrained killings etc in USA.