Arrest of Khurram Parvez Sparks Global Outcry

Khurram Parvez | File Photo

The activist’s detention has caused a global outrage with the UN and global rights bodies calling for his immediate release.

Srinagar- The United Nations Tuesday condemned the arrest of a prominent human rights activist Khurram Parvez in Srinagar by National Investigation Agency (NIA).

The federal investigation agency booked and arrested the activist after raiding his Srinagar residence and office on Monday.

The arrest memo says he was arrested in the case, FIR RC-30/2021/NIA/DLI filed on November 6, under IPC Sections 120B (criminal conspiracy), 121 (waging, attempting to wage, abetting waging of war against the government), and 121A (conspiracy to commit offences punishable by Section 121); and Sections 17 (raising funds for terrorist act), 18 (conspiracy), 18B (recruiting of any person or persons for terrorist act) and 40 (raising funds for a terrorist organisation) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

“He’s not a terrorist,” Mary Lawlor, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, calling Khurram’s arrest ‘disturbing, tweeted. “He’s a human rights defender.”

Khurram has played an important role in documenting human rights abuses allegedly committed by armed forces in Jammu and Kashmir for the last three decades.

He’s coordinator of the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) — the Srinagar-based rights advocacy body documenting and highlighting human rights abuses in Kashmir.

In its statement, Norway-based Rafto Foundation has termed the allegation against the rights defender by NIA as “wholly implausible”.

“We observe with regret that the Indian government intimidates citizens working to secure the values and norms enshrined both in the constitution of India and in international treaties ratified by the government itself,” states Jostein Hole Kobbeltvedt, Director of the Rafto Foundation.

Former United Nations Special Rapporteur, David Kaye said that Khurram’s arrest is “yet another extraordinary abuse in Kashmir”.

“I imagine that condemning the arrest of human rights defenders is on the to-do list of the upcoming summit for democracy,” he tweeted.

Calling for Khurram’s immediate release, Geneva-based World Organisation Against Torture, has said that they were “deeply concerned about the high risk of torture in custody”.

According to Amnesty International, “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,” it added in its tweet.

Kerry Kennedy, president of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, in a statement demanded his immediate release. Instead of attempting to silence and punish human rights defenders, Indian authorities should work to end impunity for perpetrators of human rights abuses.

The human rights body also praised Khurram for bravely documenting “human rights abuses” and providing “much-needed assistance to victims of these abuses to encourage India to abide by its international human rights law obligations”.

Meanwhile, CPI-ML leader KavitaKrishanan has termed the raids and arrest of Khurram “an attempt by the Modi regime to gag those witnessing and documenting the unrelenting rights violations in J&K”.

Janhastakshep, a people’s intervention group, also unequivocally condemned the arrest of the noted civil rights activist. The UAPA, it alleged, has become a “favourite tool of the ruling classes to silence any opposition to their anti-people rule”.

“Janhastakshep appeals to and hopes that all democratic sections of the society shall speak up against the arbitrary arrest of Khurram Parvez in order to protect those fighting against the ruling fascist dispensation,” it said in a statement.

Several Kashmiri origin people, including author Mirza Waheed, also took to Twitter to raise their voice against the arrest of the activist.

“Khurram Parvez is someone who’d defend the rights of even those out to persecute him. It’s a travesty that one of Kashmir’s most recognised human rights defenders has been arrested – he should be released from detention without delay,” the British Kashmiri author of “Tell Her Everything” said.
After raiding his residence, the NIA, as per the activist’s family, seized his mobile phone, laptop and books.

Khurram was earlier detained and booked under Public Safety Act in 2016 by Mehbooba Mufti led PDP-BJP Government. Last year in October, the activist was quizzed by the NIA sleuths. (With PTI inputs)

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Auqib Javeed

Auqib Javeed is special correspondent with Kashmir Observer and tweets @AuqibJaveed

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