Skip to main content

Arrest of top J&K civil society leader shows contempt for international law: PUCL

Counterview Desk 

Commenting on the arrest of Kashmiri human rights defender Khurram Parvez, India’s top human rights advocacy group, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), has said that the Government of India action is “one more attempt ... to silence peaceful, non-violent dissenters”, adding, it suggests how “a brutalizing state machinery" has been acting.
In a statement signed by Ravi Kiran Jain and Dr V Suresh, president the general secretary respectively, PUCL said, in the past few years the Indian government “repeatedly targeted” Khurram Parvez, raiding his office and home on multiple occasions, arresting and jailing him, adding, the latest Central move is in continuation of “false” cases registered against activists for their alleged involvement in the Bhima Koregaon violence, Delhi riots, Tripura violence, farmers protest, etc.

Text:

PUCL calls for the immediate release of Kashmiri human rights defender Khurram Parvez, who was arrested on 22nd November 2021, by the National Investigating Agency under various provisions of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and Indian Penal Code.
PUCL condemns the relentless use of UAPA by Indian Government to arrest, detain and jail human rights defenders for long periods without any trial.
According to the arrest memo, the sections that have been invoked against Khurram include 120B, 121 and 121A of IPC (pertaining to waging war against the Government) and sections 17, 18, 18B, 38 and 40 (pertaining to terrorist activities and being member of terrorist organization) of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) Act, 1967.
In past few years Indian government has repeatedly targeted Khurram Parvez, raided his office, home on multiple occasions and even arrested and jailed him.
In September 2016 immigration authorities had disallowed him from boarding a flight to Geneva. Mr. Khurram was then travelling to attend the thirty-third session of the United Nations Human Rights Council. He was later immediately detained and arrested in Srinagar. Four days later, the principal district and sessions judge of Srinagar set aside his order of detention and ordered his release. But as soon as he was released, he was rearrested, under the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act, 1978 -- a law, applicable only in Jammu and Kashmir, which allows an individual to be taken into preventive custody for two years without any charges or a trial. Seventy six days later, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court quashed his detention as “illegal.” It also noted that the district magistrate of Srinagar, had acted “arbitrarily” and the “detaining authority has abused its powers.”
Once again in October 2020, Khurram and JKCSS were targeted and raided by NIA. Being unable to prove even before the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir their case for arrest and detention of Khurram Parvez, the Indian state has used its ultimate weapon of invoking UAPA, a legislation which has very harsh bail condition, which allows government to jail the arrested dissenters without trial for many years.
Khurram Parvez has been the coordinator of the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) and chairperson of the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD). Parvez is a Distinguished Scholar with the Political Conflict, Gender, and People’s Rights Initiative at the Center for Race and Gender at University of California, Berkeley.
JKCCS has acted as the conscience of society and published several reports on human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir over the decades. The reports range from election monitoring, impact of violence on children, sexual violence, enforced disappearances, torture, to environmental disasters.
Various international human rights organizations, including the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, have expressed concern over arrest of Parvez Khurram and have urged for his immediate release.
What emboldens the state to ride roughshod over rights of J&K people is failure of SC to hear challenges to abrogation of Article 370
PUCL firmly believes that the present action is one more attempt on part of the present establishment to silence peaceful, non-violent dissenters. In the context of what has happened in recent times concerning cases of Bhima Koregaon, Delhi riots, Tripura violence, farmers protest, the tool kit case, Siddique Kappan case and various others across the country, Khurram’s arrest is one more instance of a brutalizing state machinery being used against human rights defenders.
This is all the more significant in the context of Jammu and Kashmir, where the Central government steamrolled the State’s autonomy guaranteed under Article 370 of the Constitution without taking into account the democratic aspirations of the people of the State and the converting of Jammu and Kashmir into a union territory directly ruled from Delhi with complete bulldozing of all human rights of the ordinary people.
The population has been already subjected to other massive violations including total militarization, long internet shutdowns, use of draconian laws such as Public Safety Act, AFSPA and UAPA. Recently on 15th November, 2021, four persons were shot dead by the police In an alleged encounter in Hyderpora, Srinagar which was contested by the families as a fake encounter and actually a cold blooded murder of innocents.
The widespread protests led by the families led to the announcement by the Kashmir administration of a Magisterial enquiry and return of bodies to the families. It is in this wider context that it is very crucial that alternate narratives of ground level reality be brought before the world. This is precisely what JKCCSS and Khurram were doing.
PUCL believes that the arrest of Khurram Parvez is not just an attack on him or JKCCS but an effort to stop any voices concerning human rights violations from Jammu and Kashmir being allowed to be heard in the larger world. It is also an ominous illustration of the implications of the doctrine of the national security adviser Ajit Doval that civil society is the “new frontier of war”.
Such arrests will have a chilling effect on any independent voice emerging from civil society and a further indication of a government mindset which is uninterested in any political resolution. Trust building between the people and the government needs the government to respect civil society not destroy it. This is the position of international law as articulated in the UN Declaration on human rights defenders, 1999.
This government’s action of arresting important voices in civil society like Khurram demonstrates the governments contempt for international law which it has itself undertaken to respect and will only further alienate the people of Kashmir and make the political solution to the Kashmir issue that much more distant.
What emboldens the state in continuing to ride roughshod over the rights of the people of Jammu and Kashmir is the tragic failure of the Supreme Court to hear the challenges to the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution.
For all these reasons we call for the immediate release of Parvez Khurram and denounce the continuous use of draconian UAPA and other legislations to silence the voices of human rights defenders.

Comments

TRENDING

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

India reaches 8th of 10 stage genocide: US Muslim advocacy group raises 'alert'

By Hena Zuberi* India has reached the 8th stage of genocide with the persecution of the Muslim community. Stating this, Professor Greg Stanton, who heads Genocide Watch, declared a Genocide Emergency Alert for India today at Justice For All online briefing.

Anti-poor? 'Cumbersome' to link aadhaar, voter ID for people sans internet access

By Prashant Kumar Chaudhary, Ajit Kumar Jaiswal*  At present, technology plays an increasingly crucial part in modelling human existence by offering a variety of solutions to many of the challenges individuals confront in the real world. As a result, every branch of research works to provides means to solve these difficulties precisely and efficiently. The Central government works along the same lines as well.

'Dargah site was a temple': Claim in Gujarat following post-Babri verdict demands in UP

By Rajiv Shah  Will Gujarat also see demands to replace mosques and dargahs with Hindu temples? It would seem so, if a new fact-finding team conclusion is any indication. Apprehending the “danger” of communal conflagration, it has cited the claim on a 15th century dargah was originally a Hindu temple – allegedly quite on line with what has been happening in UP following the Supreme Court verdict on Babri Mosque.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Why Church in India today needs a Rutilio Grande, martyred for stance on social justice

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*  For the people of El Salvador, January 22, 2022 will be more than just a red-letter day. Three of their sons, Jesuit Fr Rutilio Grande and his two lay associates 72-year-old Manuel Solorzano and 15-year-old Nelson Rutilio Lemus (and Italian Franciscan missionary Fr Cosme Spessotto who was also martyred) will be beatified in San Salvador.

Sweden-backed study: India won't achieve 2030 UN goals, officials can't recognise SDG

By Rajiv Shah  A Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC)-sponsored study, carried out by the advocacy group Consumer Unity & Trust Society (CUTS) India, seeking to analyse the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) No 12, Responsible Consumption and Production (RCP), has regretted, it is "very unlikely" India will achieve any of the targets of SDG 12 by 2030 "unless some serious measures are taken by the government to reverse the present trend."

Gender insensitive? Model Gujarat's cyclone relief package ignores 40,000 fisherwomen

CSJ volunteers talking to fisherwomen By Rajiv Shah  A Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) note on the Gujarat government’s compensation package to the victims of the devastating Tauktae cyclone, which hit the coastal belt of Saurashtra's Amerli, Rajula, Una, and Gir-Somnath districts in May 2021, has said, the relief offered was so terribly inadequate that many of the fisherfolk were not able to fish for the rest of the year.

Savarkar 'opposed' Bhagat Singh's, Netaji's dream of India, supported British war efforts

By Shamsul Islam* In a shocking development, the student wing of the RSS put the busts of martyrs Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose with Savarkar's on one pedestal at the University of Delhi late in the night on August 20, 2019. Bhagat Singh sacrificed his life for a socialist-democratic-secular republic and Netaji raised Azad Hind Fauj (INA) consisting of people of all religions and regions for armed liberation of India.

Haridwar call for genocide direct result of Modi 'tolerating' Islamophobic policies

By Our Representative  A high-level briefing organised in Washington DC, in which as many as 17 human rights and interfaith organizations -- including Amnesty International USA, Genocide Watch and Hindus for Human Rights, apart from several persons in their individual capacity -- participated, has come down heavily on what they called "Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Islamophobic policies and tolerance of open incitement by Hindu extremists for a genocide of Muslims."