On Rana Ayyub row, India slams UN rapporteurs; says, “no one is above law”

New Delhi: India has taken exception to UN special rapporteurs on the right to freedom of opinion and human rights for “advancing a misleading narrative” on the Rana Ayyub-ED probe episode and insisted that “no one is above law”.

“Allegations of so-called judicial harassment are baseless and unwarranted. India upholds the rule of law, but is equally clear that no one is above the law. We expect SRs (special rapporteurs) to be objective and accurately informed. Advancing a misleading narrative only tarnishes the UN’s reputation,” India’s permanent mission to the UN in Geneva said in a tweet.

The matter was subsequently followed up with a note and a diplomatic correspondence–from India’s permanent mission to the UN. The Indian side also took up the issue with the UN office in Geneva.

India’s rebuttal came after a statement was issued by Irene Khan, special rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression and Mary Lawlor, special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders.

The statement said there were “relentless misogynistic and sectarian attacks online” against journalist Rana Ayyub must be investigated by Indian authorities, and the “judicial harassment against her brought to an end”.

The probe by the Enforcement Directorate against Ms Ayyub was launched in September 2021, based on a first information report (FIR) by Ghaziabad police, in which the complainant–Vikas Sankrityayan–had accused her of illegally acquiring public money.

On February 10, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) attached funds worth Rs 1.77 crore from the bank accounts of Rana Ayyub, alleging that donation raised by her for relief work through an online crowd-funding platform used for personal expenses. There was also an allegation of money laundering. In a statement issued on February 11, Rana Ayyub refuted all allegations.

The Enforcement Directorate said journalist Rana Ayyub, associated with a noted western publication, knowingly indulged in “Proceeds of Crime including its acquisition and possession”, and thus assets worth Rs 1.77 crore have been attached under the Money Laundering Act.

Rana Ayyub has cheated the general Public Donors in a pre-planned manner and with the intention to cheat the general public donors. The ED order says that Ms Rana Ayyub’s scam started right when she collected the money and started withdrawing it from the savings account of herself and her family members.

The ED order further said that a Fixed Deposit amounting to Rs 50 Lakh was booked from her saving bank account through net banking and opening a separate Current bank account, and subsequently, funds were transferred from her saving bank account and bank account of her sister and father and did not utilize it for the purpose for which it was raised by Rana Ayyub.

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