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Jammu & Kashmir: Kashmir human rights defender arrested under anti-terror law

23rd Nov 2021
Jammu & Kashmir: Kashmir human rights defender arrested under anti-terror law

SRINAGAR, Jammu and Kashmir, India (AA): India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) arrested prominent Kashmiri human rights defender Khurram Parvez Monday under the anti-terror law, the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.

A family member told Anadolu Agency that NIA officials, who raided his residence early Monday, took him to the agency’s camp office that is some distance from the Khurram’s residence.

He was probably questioned at the camp office throughout the day, the family member said. In the evening, the family was told Khurram was under arrest and would be taken to New Delhi, where NIA headquarters is located.

NIA officials seized Khurram’s phone, laptop, books and two of his wife’s mobile phones during searches at his home, said the family member.

Searches were being conducted at Khurram’s office located in the Amira Kadal area of the capital, Srinagar, at the time of this report.

“I’m hearing disturbing reports that Khurram Parvez was arrested today in Kashmir & is at risk of being charged by authorities in India with terrorism-related crimes. He’s not a terrorist, he’s a Human Rights Defender,” tweeted UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders Mary Lawlor.

The NIA raided Khurram’s home and office on Oct. 20, 2020, and seized computers and other gadgets in what the agency called a “terror-funding” case.

Simultaneously, NIA officials raided the office of another award-winning female rights defender, Parveena Ahangar, who heads the Association of the Parents of Disappeared Persons.

The NIA also raided the premises of the NGO, Athrout, the residence of AFP journalist Parvez Bukhari and Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) members Parvez Ahmad Matta and Swati Sheshadri in Bengaluru, Karnataka State in India.

Khurram is the coordinator of the KJCCS, one of the highly respected rights organizations in the disputed region.

He won the 2006 Reebok Human Rights Award for his work, which he carried out despite losing a leg in an IED blast in 2004 while monitoring an election in a remote northern Kashmir hamlet.

On Sept. 21, 2016, he was put under preventive detention under the infamous Public Safety Act and released after 76 days.

The detention came days after he was stopped at New Delhi’s international airport from traveling to Geneva, where he was to attend the UN Human Rights Council’s 33rd session.

-Disputed region

Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A sliver of Kashmir is also held by China.

Since they were partitioned in 1947, India and Pakistan have fought three wars — in 1948, 1965 and 1971 — two regarding Kashmir.

Indian and Pakistani troops have also fought intermittently in the northern Siachen region since 1984. A cease-fire took effect in 2003.

Some Kashmiri groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting Indian rule for independence or for unification with neighboring Pakistan.

According to several human rights organizations, thousands have reportedly been killed in the conflict since 1989.

[Photo: An Indian soldier searches the bag of a Kashmiri civilian in  Srinagar on 19 November during a shutdown called by separatist camp across the Kashmir valley to protest against the recent killing of civilians by Indian security forces. Photographer:Faisal Khan/AA]

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