Thu. Jan 20th, 2022

Parvez, 44, coordinator of a local human rights group, was arrested on November 22 by India’s counter-terrorism investigation agency.

Srinagar, Kashmir administered by India The UN has expressed concern over the arrest of a prominent Kashmiri rights activist under the strict “anti-terrorism” law by the Indian authorities and has demanded his release.

“We are deeply concerned about the arrest of Kashmiri human rights defender Khurram Parvez under Indian anti-terrorism legislation, the Prevention of Illegal Activities Act (UAPA),” the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said in a statement. ) said in a statement on Wednesday.

Under the UAPA, a person can be detained without charge for months.

The UN body of law has demanded an amendment to the law to bring it into line with international human rights law and standards.

Parvez, 44, who is the coordinator of the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), a local human rights group, was arrested on November 22 by India’s top counter-terrorism investigation agency (NIA) and was recorded. under UAPA and the Indian Penal Code for “terrorist funding” and other charges.

He was arrested after the NIA carried out raids at his residence and office in Srinagar, the capital of the Muslim-majority region, which experienced an armed rebellion against Indian rule.

The arrest of Parvez – the recipient of the 2006 Reebok Human Rights Award – has been widely criticized by legal groups around the world, including Amnesty International.

The World Organization Against Torture (OMCT), a global network of more than 200 non-governmental organizations or NGOs, said they were “deeply concerned about the high risk of torture while in detention.”

Parvez has been moved to a jail in the Indian capital, New Delhi.

Anuradha Bhasin, a Kashmir-based journalist and political analyst, said the repression was an attempt to “silence” activists.

“This is being done to silence the human rights activists,” Bhasin told Al Jazeera, referring to Parvez’s arrest under the draconian law.

“The government has already crushed the media in Kashmir,” she said, referring to the repression of journalists and media organizations in Kashmir.

“These things are not good for India, because it wants to project itself as the largest democracy in the world. They have to reconsider their choices, ”she said.

Right-wing groups have accused Kashmir’s regional administration, which is run directly from New Delhi, of targeting local human rights activists and organizations. Last year, the office of another legal group, the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP), was shut down by the NIA.

At least 2,300 people have been booked under the UAPA over the past two years, according to official figures.

“The law is also increasingly being used to stifle the work of human rights defenders, journalists and other critics in Jammu and Kashmir and other parts of India,” the UN law group said.

JKCCS led by Parvez has published a number of reports on the human rights violations in the decades of Kashmir conflict and the “impunity enjoyed by the Indian armed forces” in the region.

India has stationed more than half a million troops in the Himalayan region, making it one of the most militarized territories in the world. New Delhi says troops are there to thwart armed rebellion.

Kashmiri rebels have been fighting since the late 1980s for independence or amalgamation of the territory with Pakistan. India says Pakistan supports armed groups – a charge denied by Islamabad.

The conflict in the region has intensified since 2019, when the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government stripped the region of its limited autonomy.

The controversial move was followed by the imposition of a months-long security lockdown, and the repression of hundreds of Kashmiri politicians, lawyers and activists.

The ruling BJP government, while justifying Parvez’s arrest, said the government was acting “after having evidence of the person’s involvement.”

“The government or any of its agencies will not touch a person until they have evidence. “Some people are doing illegal work in the guise of rights activists,” Ashok Kaul, BJP’s spokesman in Kashmir, told Al Jazeera.

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