Kashmir Rights Activist’s Arrest Denounced, Release Sought

SRINAGAR: The arrest of Khurram Parvez by the federal terror investigating agency, NIA, has been denounced by the human rights watchdogs including the UN officials. Parvez was arrested by NIA on Monday after raids on his office and residence.

Mary Lawlor, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, called Parvez’s arrest “disturbing.”

“He’s not a terrorist, he’s a human rights defender,” she wrote on Twitter.

Chennai based newspaper, The Hindu reported that the Rafto Foundation, a body working for the global promotion of human rights, has appealed Delhi to “immediately release” Parvez.

“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. We appeal to Indian authorities to respect Mr. Parvez’s habeas corpus rights and release him from detention without delay,” Jostein Hole Kobbeltvedt, Director of the Rafto Foundation, said in a statement, according to the newspaper.

The JKCCS was awarded the Rafto Prize for Human Rights in 2017.

Geneva-based the World Organization Against Torture has also expressed its deep concern. “We are deeply concerned about the high risk of torture while in custody. We call for his immediate release,” the organisation said.

Parvez who headed the JKCCS was earlier arrested in 2016. Booked under Public Safety Act, he was released after 76 days of imprisonment after the Jammu and Kashmir High Court quashed his detention. He was also prevented from boarding a flight to attend a UN human rights forum in Geneva in September 2016. In October 2020, NIA had raided his residence also.

CPI(M) leader and former MLA Kulgam Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami also expressed his concern.

Taking to social networking site Twitter, Tarigami wrote: “Regret the arrest of Parvez Khuram under UAPA, which is being repeatedly misused across the country . It’s rampant use without transparency and accountability will only alienate the people further.”

On Monday, NIA raided his office on the Srinagar Budh and also his residence in Sonawar. He was later taken to the camp office of the NIA where he was formally arrested. The family was sent an arrest memo mentioning that his arrest took place under 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.

Delhi based newspaper The Indian Express quoted an NIA spokesman saying: “Parvez was in touch with overground workers of a Pakistan-based banned terror outfit.”

Talking to The Washington Post, Sameena Mir Parvez’s wife has denied the charges and said she was not aware of what triggered the arrest. Accompanied by their children and a few other relatives, she met Parvez in the morning before he was flown to Delhi later in the day. “The family has not been served a copy of the case against him,” the Post said. “The authorities seized Parvez’s laptop, cell phones and a few books, including on Hindu nationalism.”

“Mr. Parvez’s brother, Sheikh Shariyar, said the authorities carried out a four-hour search of their home on Monday and took Parvez away for what they said would be routine questioning,” The New York Times reported. “But the family was later told that Mr. Parvez had been arrested and would be transferred to New Delhi.”

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