HomeUncategorizedKhurram Parvez: UN says it is ‘deeply concerned’ by India’s arrest of leading Kashmiri human rights defender

Khurram Parvez: UN says it is ‘deeply concerned’ by India’s arrest of leading Kashmiri human rights defender

Geneva: United Nations has expressed concern over the arrest of a prominent Kashmiri rights activist Khurram Parvez under the stringent “anti-terror” law by Indian authorities and has called for his release.

Already, Modi government has crushed the media in Indian Occupied Kashmir. At least 2,300 people have been booked under the UAPA in last two years. The act is also increasingly being used to stifle the work of human rights defenders, journalists and other critics in Indian Occupied Kashmir and other parts of India.

UN rights body has demanded amendment in the law to bring it in line with the international human rights law and standards. The arrest of Parvez – recipient of 2006 Reebok Human Rights Award has been widely criticized by rights groups around the globe including Amnesty International.  World Organization Against Torture (OMCT), is “deeply concerned about the high risk of torture while in custody.”

“We are deeply concerned at the arrest of Kashmiri human rights defender Khurram Parvez under Indian counter-terrorism legislation, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA),”  the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) spokesperson Rupert Colville said.

Mr Parvez, who is a vocal defender of human rights in Kashmir, was arrested on 22 November by India’s top anti-terrorism agency under a controversial anti-terrorism law which makes it almost impossible to get bail.

The OHCHR said the agency was unaware of the “factual basis of the charges” and called on Indian authorities to release him in order to safeguard “his right to freedom of expression” and personal liberty.

UAPA allows Indian authorities to detain people without producing any incriminating evidence and keep people in prison without trial by setting stringent requirements for bail.

During prime minister Narendra Modi’s regime, the law has been unabashedly used against the government’s critics, which include students and journalists, to throttle dissent. UAPA has been dubbed as draconian and stringent by critics of the law in India after the scope of the law was expanded under the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government.

Earlier, OHCHR reiterated its call to make amendments in the law to bring it in line with international human rights standards.

The UN agency also said that it was “increasingly alarmed by the rise in killings of civilians, including members of religious minorities, by armed groups in Indian-administered Kashmir this year”.

“At the same time, civilians have been killed by security forces in the course of counter-terrorism operations, and their bodies on occasion disposed in secret,” it added.

It singled out a recent encounter in Srinagar’s Hyderpora area on 15 November, in which four people were killed in an alleged counter-terrorism operation. Families claimed that three of those killed were innocent civilians, leading to protests.

Their bodies were secretly buried by local police without the knowledge of their kin, who alleged that Indian troops used them as human shields. After a public outcry, the bodies of two civilians were later exhumed and returned to their families.

“We call on the security forces and armed groups to exercise restraint, and to ensure that the rise in tensions in Jammu and Kashmir in recent weeks does not lead to further violence against the civilian population,” OHCHR added.

The 42-year-old rights defender is the programme coordinator of the civil rights group Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS). For over two decades, Mr Parvez has been highlighting human rights abuses in Indian-administered Kashmir by the country’s troops.

JKCCS has published several reports of alleged violence at the hands of Indian troops, including torture, sexual assault, extrajudicial killings and unmarked mass graves.

He is also the chairperson of the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances, a Philippines-based international rights organisation that examines forced disappearances in Asia. He received the Reebok Human Rights Award in 2006. The Independent


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