The Enforcement Directorate (ED) raided retired Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer, Harsh Mander's home and office, on Thursday, 16 September.
This comes only hours after Mander and his wife left for Germany for a fellowship at the Robert Bosch Academy in Berlin.
Along with his home in Vasant Kunj, the Centre for Equity Studies, of which he is a chairperson, and the two children's homes run by the activist in Mehrauli were also reportedly raided by the ED.
All devices have reportedly been seized. Further details are awaited.
The raids began at 8 am and are connected to a money laundering probe based on an FIR (First Information Repot) filed by the Economic Offences Wing of Delhi Police in February this year, NDTV reported.
The FIR was filed under instruction from the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), alleging financial irregularities connected to the two children's homes in Mehrauli — Umeed Aman Ghar (for boys) and Khushi Rainbow Home (for girls).
The FIR by Delhi Police invokes charges like cheating, breach of trust and criminal conspiracy.
'Scandalous Misuse of Government Authority'
Meanwhile, Congress leader Digvijay Singh, The Wire's Editor-in-chief Siddharth Varadarajan, and other netizens condemned the ED raids and called it an intimidation tactic to curb dissenting voices.
Singh said in a tweet, "He (Mander) tirelessly worked for Communal Harmony & his 'Karwan e Mohabbat' has been very successful in bridging relationships between Hindus and Muslims. He has been under attack from Right Wing and BJP troll army. This action is pure Vindictiveness and of Harassment. We stand by him. (sic)"
Mander who has been critical of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), had also been a part of the Anti-CAA protests and had carried out food distribution drives during the stringent COVID lockdown last year.
Earlier, Mander had called the allegations 'completely unjustified' and said, "We created a very strong system, like we had elder women (caretakers) sleeping with smaller children and we have counselling. It is just an allegation and a rumour," NDTV reported.
600 Eminent Personalities Condemn Raids
Over 600 eminent personalities, including senior advocate Indira Jaising; Henri Tiphagne, People’s Watch; Kavita Krishnan, AIPWA General Secretary; Teesta Setalvad, CJP; senior journalist Paranjoy Guha Thakurta; Ritu Kapur, The Quint; Dhanya Rajendran, The News Minute; and seior journalist Anubha Bhonsle, issued a statement to condemn the raids.
"Over the past year, Harsh Mander and the CES have 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," the statement said.
"All these vindictive efforts combined, have shown 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," it added.