India’s counter-terrorism agency on Monday arrested a prominent Kashmiri human rights activist under a draconian anti-terrorism law which makes it nearly impossible to get bail. The United Nations, as well as rights groups, have criticized the arrest of a prominent activist in Indian-occupied Kashmir on terror funding charges.
Khurram Parvez has been accused of “terror-funding” and “conspiracy”. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) arrested him after raids at his home and office in Indian-administered Kashmir.
The arrest has caused global outrage amid calls for his release. Activists and others on social media have called the arrest an attempt to “silence and punish human rights defenders”.
Who is Khurram Parvez?
Parvez has long been a vocal critic of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government. His Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), a group based in Kashmir, has published several scathing reports on human rights violations. It excesses committed by security forces in the Valley.
He is also the chairperson of the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD). It is an international rights organization that looks into the forced disappearances in Kashmir and elsewhere in Asia.
In 2016, Indian authorities had arrested Parvez a day after he was barred from traveling to Switzerland to attend the 33rd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council. They had charged him under the controversial Public Safety Act (PSA). It allows detention without charge for up to two years.
He was released after 76 days in prison after increased pressure from international rights groups.
UN criticizes the arrest
On Monday, investigators from the NIA searched his home and the office of JKCCS in Srinagar, Kashmir’s main city. They initially took him for questioning and arrested him later in the evening.
The police have charged him under various sections of the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Including “criminal conspiracy”, “attempt to wage war against the government” and “raising funds for terrorist acts and a terrorist organization”.
The United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, Mary Lawlor, condemned Parvez’s arrest. “He is not a terrorist, he is a human rights defender,” she wrote on Twitter.
India continues to violate human rights in IOK. The arrest also comes at a time when tensions are boiling over in the Kashmir valley after the recent killing of two civilians.
Police said the men allegedly died in the crossfire when security forces attacked suspected militants in Srinagar. But families of the civilians have denied the police version of events, saying they were deliberately killed by Indian troops while being used as a human shield.
What do you think of this story? Let us know in the comments section below.