Indian human rights organization People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) has demanded immediate release of the eminent Kashmiri human rights activist Khurram Parvez. The National Investigation Agency had arrested him on Monday.
After day-long raids in Parvez’s residence in Sonwar and his office in Amira Kadal, he was interrogated and then arrested. He has been booked under draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for funding terror activities.
He has been booked under Section 17 (raising funds for terrorist act), Section 18 (conspiracy), Section 18B (recruiting of any person or persons for terrorist act), Section 38 (offence relating to membership of a terrorist organisation), and Section 40 (raising funds for a terrorist organisation) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
Khurram has also been booked under Section 120B (criminal conspiracy), Section 121 (waging, attempting to wage, abetting the waging of war against the government), and Section 121A (conspiracy to commit offences punishable by Section 121) of Indian Penal Code.
“Parvez’s arrest is a continuation of the government’s misuse of the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act “to arrest, detain and jail human rights defenders for long periods without any trial.
This is also not the first time the government has gone after Parvez. In the past few years the Indian Government has repeatedly targeted Khurram Parvez, raided his office, home on multiple occasions and even arrested and jailed him. Parvez’s arrest cannot be seen in isolation and is emblematic of the state’s harassment of human rights defenders.”
PUCL firmly believes that the present action is one more attempt on part of the present establishment to silence peaceful, non violent dissenters. In the context of what has happened in recent times concerning cases of Bhima Koregaon, Delhi riots, Tripura violence, farmers protest, the tool kit case, Siddique Kappan case and various others across the country, Khurram’s arrest is one more instance of a brutalizing state machinery being used against human rights defenders.
This is all the more significant in the context of Jammu and Kashmir, where the Central Government steamrolled the State’s autonomy guaranteed under Article 370 of the Constitution without taking into account the democratic aspirations of the people of the State and the converting of Jammu and Kashmir into a union territory directly ruled from Delhi with complete bulldozing of all human rights of the ordinary people. The population has been already subjected to other massive violations including total militarization, long internet shutdowns, use of draconian laws such as Public Safety Act, AFSPA and UAPA. In this context it is very crucial that alternate narratives of ground level reality be brought before the world. This is precisely what JKCCSS and Khurram were doing.
PUCL believes that the arrest of Khurram Pravez is not just an attack on him or JKCCS but an effort to stop any voices concerning human rights violations from Jammu and Kashmir being allowed to be heard in the larger world. It is also an ominous illustration of the implications of the doctrine of the national security adviser Ajit Doval that civil society is the “new frontier of war”. Such arrests will have a chilling effect on any independent voice emerging from civil society and a further indication of a government mindset which is uninterested in any political resolution. Trust building between the people and the government needs the government to respect civil society not destroy it. This is the position of international law as articulated in the UN Declaration on human rights defenders, 1999. This government’s action of arresting important voices in civil society like Khurram demonstrates the government’s contempt for international law which it has itself undertaken to respect and will only further alienate the people of Kashmir and make the political solution to the Kashmir issue that much more distant.”
Who Is Khurram Parvez?
Khurram Parvez is a Kashmiri human rights activist who has worked extensively on documenting the abuses allegedly committed both by security forces and militants in Kashmir.
- Journalist by education.
- Recipient of prestigious Chevening Fellowship at the University of Glasgow, United Kingdom.
- Serving as chairperson of Philippines-based Asian Federation against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) which focuses on the issue of forced disappearance in Asia.
- Serving as the programme coordinator of the JKCCS and is also one of its founding members.
- The Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) was launched in 2000. It is an amalgam body of various non-funded, non-profit, campaign, research and advocacy organisations based in Srinagar. For the past two decades, JKCCS has been addressing socio-political issues and human rights interests in J&K.
- In 1996, he stared a helpline to provide peer counselling and guidance to students affected by conflict in the Valley
- In 1999, he started working with Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons which focuses on enforced disappearances.
- On 20 April 2004, Khurram and his associates were targeted using a high-intensity improvised explosive device (IED). He survived with an amputated leg.
- The incident didn’t break his passion and he became more engaged with the Nobel Prize-winning International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL).
In 2006, Khurram was honored with the Reebok International Human Rights Award.
Not Arrested For The First Time
In September 2016, Khurram was stopped at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport by immigration authorities when he was going to attend a UN Human Rights Council session.
“The activist had been stopped from proceeding to the UN as he had an “intention to internationalise the ongoing disturbance in Kashmir and castigate Indian policies had approached the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and other UN Special Rapporteurs,” submitted Intelligence Bureau.
He was arrested on September 15. He was released on September 20 after the Session Court orders and was re-arrested on September 21 under Public Safety Act (PSA).
After 76 days in prison, Jammu and Kashmir High Court quashed his detention under PSA and ordered his release. “The detenu in these circumstances has been deprived of the opportunity of making an effective representation against his detention in terms of Article 22(5) of the Constitution of India. Breach of this constitutional safeguard alone is sufficient to invalidate the impugned order of detention,” the High Court had said.
Amnesty International And Others Condemned Khurram Parvez’s Arrest
The arrest of Kashmiri activist Khurram Parvez is yet another example of how anti-terror laws are being misused to criminalize human rights work & stifle dissent in India. Instead of targeting HRDs, authorities should focus on bringing accountability for human rights violations.
— Amnesty International (@amnesty) November 23, 2021
I’m hearing disturbing reports that Khurram Parvez was arrested today in Kashmir & is at risk of being charged by authorities in #India with terrorism-related crimes. He’s not a terrorist, he’s a Human Rights Defender @mujmash @RaftoFoundation @GargiRawat @NihaMasih pic.twitter.com/9dmZOrSwMY
— Mary Lawlor UN Special Rapporteur HRDs (@MaryLawlorhrds) November 22, 2021
— David Kaye (@davidakaye) November 22, 2021
Indian occupation forces raid the office of a human rights organization (JKCCS) in Kashmir and the home of prominent human rights activist @KhurramParvez.
This is how India tries to conceals its atrocities in J&K from the world! pic.twitter.com/fORqjH3xtC
— CJ Werleman (@cjwerleman) November 22, 2021
Indian security forces have arrested a prominent Kashmiri human rights activist, Khurram Parvez, and charged him under a strict antiterrorism law, "amid growing concerns that the Indian authorities are abusing the law to quash dissent." https://t.co/NLOuENVjNG pic.twitter.com/c46AwwPDrj
— Kenneth Roth (@KenRoth) November 24, 2021