Mumbai, Sep 20: Every rupee in his foundation is awaiting its turn to be used to reach the needy and save precious lives, actor Sonu Sood said in a statement on Monday, days after the CBDT alleged that he and his associates evaded tax of Rs 20 crore.

Speaking out for the first time since multiples searches at his premises and those related to his associates last week, the 48-year-old actor said he had been busy "attending to a few guests" and that is why he was unable to be at the service of the people for the last four days.

"Here I am back again in all humility. At your humble service, for life. My journey continues. Jai Hind," he wrote in a statement on Instagram.

The Central Board of Direct Taxes CBDT claimed that after the Income Tax Department raided him and a Lucknow-based infrastructure group, it was found that Sood routed his "unaccounted income in the form of bogus unsecured loans from many bogus entities".

It also accused the "Dabangg" actor of violating the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) while raising donations from abroad.

Sood said in his statement that he had pledged himself to the service of the people of India with all his "strength and heart".

"You don't always have to tell your side of the story. Time will. Every rupee in my foundation is awaiting its turn to save a precious life and reach the needy. In addition, on many occasions, I have encouraged brands to donate my endorsement fees for humanitarian causes too, which keeps us going," he said.

Sood has been active on social media platforms and hit the headlines with his philanthropic work during the pandemic.

 
 
 
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Hong Kong, Oct 25: Amnesty International said Monday it would close its two offices in Hong Kong this year, becoming the latest non-governmental organization to cease its operations amid a crackdown on political dissent in the city.

The human rights group said its local office in Hong Kong would close this month while its regional office will close by the end of the year, with regional operations moved to other offices in the Asia-Pacific region.

This decision, made with a heavy heart, has been driven by Hong Kong's national security law, which has made it effectively impossible for human rights organizations in Hong Kong to work freely and without fear of serious reprisals from the government, Anjhula Mya Singh Bais, chair of Amnesty's board, said in a statement.

Hong Kong implemented a sweeping national security law in 2020 following months of massive anti-government protests. The law outlaws secession, subversion of state power, terrorism and foreign collusion to intervene in the city's affairs. More than 120 people, many of them supporters of the city's democracy movement, have been arrested under the law.

The majority of the city's prominent pro-democracy activists are behind bars for taking part in unauthorized assemblies, and dozens of political organizations and trade unions have ceased operations out of concern for their members' personal safety under the security law.

Bais said the recent targeting of local human rights and trade union groups signaled authorities were intensifying their campaign to rid the city of dissenting voices. It is increasingly difficult for us to keep operating in such an unstable environment, she said.

Critics in Hong Kong say the national security law is an erosion of freedoms, such as those of expression and assembly, that were promised the city for 50 years when the former British colony was handed over to China in 1997.