Several global organizations have called for the immediate release of Kashmiri human rights activist Khurram Parvez, who was arrested on Monday by the National Investigation Agency.
Parvez was convicted under the Prevention of Unlawful (Activities) Act in a case filed on November 6 under Articles 38 (offense relating to membership of a terrorist organization) and 40 of the UAPA, which covers the financing of terrorism, according to the arrest note seen by Scroll. In.
Charges under Sections 121 (waging, attempting to waging, encouraging war against government), 18B (recruiting person for terrorist act) and 120B (criminal association) of the Indian Penal Code have also been invoked. in that case.
Parvez is coordinator of the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, a union of nonprofit campaign and advocacy organizations in Srinagar, and president of the Asian Federation for Involuntary Disappearances, an international human rights organization that focuses on on enforced disappearances on the continent.
The human rights organization People’s Union for Civil Liberties on Wednesday called for Parvez’s release and condemned the government’s continued use of the UAPA “to arrest, detain and imprison human rights defenders. for long periods without any trial â.
In a statement, the organization noted that this was not the first time the government has targeted Parvez.
“In [the] In recent years, the Indian government has repeatedly targeted Khurram Parvez, raided his office, his home on several occasions and even arrested and jailed him, âhe said.
The statement said the government’s actions were another attempt to silence peaceful and non-violent dissidents.
“In the context of what has happened in recent times regarding the Bhima Koregaon cases, the Delhi riots, the Tripura violence, the farmers’ protests, the toolbox case, the Siddique Kappan case and various others across the country, Khurram’s arrest is one more example of a state brutalizing machinery used against human rights defenders, âhe said.
The statement said the government’s actions were much more extreme in Jammu and Kashmir, where residents are already subject to militarization, long internet shutdowns and the use of draconian laws such as the UAPA, the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act and the Public Security Act. .
âIn this context, it is very crucial that alternative narratives of ground level reality are presented to the world,â he said. âThis is precisely what JKCCSS [Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society] and Khurram were doing.
Human rights organization Amnesty International said Parvez’s arrest was another example of the abuse of anti-terrorism laws to stifle dissent in India. âInstead of targeting HRDs [human rights defenders], authorities should focus on accountability for human rights violations, âhe tweeted.
The World Organization Against Torture has expressed deep concern at the risk of Parvez being tortured and has called for his immediate release.
“I hear disturbing reports that Khurram Parvez was arrested today [November 22] in Kashmir and risks being charged by the Indian authorities with crimes linked to terrorism â, Marie lawlor, the UN special rapporteur on human rights defenders said in a tweet. âHe’s not a terrorist, he’s a human rights defender.
The Rafto Foundation, a nonprofit that focuses on promoting human rights, said the accusations against Parvez lacked credibility.
Rafto Foundation director Jostein Hole Kobbeltvedt said the organization has worked closely with Parvez and the Jammu Kashmir Civil Society Coalition for four years.
“Their denunciation of political violence has been vehement and absolute, whenever the subject of other actors committing such acts has been brought up,” Kobbeltvedt said. âAll of their work has been focused on raising awareness of human rights violations through peaceful and democratic means. “
The organization added that India refused to engage in a discussion on various allegations reported by civil society and international organizations.
âDozens of Indian civil society organizations addressing human rights issues of one kind or another have been subjected to funding constraints, harassment in the media or by the government, and what appears to be futile legal proceedings, âhe added.
He also called on the United Nations to express their unequivocal condemnation of the persecution of human rights activists in India.