Rights activist Khurram Parvez’s arrest opens up can of worms
Khurram Parvez has been the most prominent face of human rights movement in Kashmir in recent times and his arrest under the controversial Public Safety Act (PSA) has attracted condemnation and raised questions on the state’s procedures to tackle unrests.
He was picked up by the police on September 15 in Srinagar a day after he was stopped from travelling to Geneva to participate in a UN Human Rights Council session. The condemnation of his arrest hasn’t only been domestic. The New York Times in its Friday editorial wrote that Parvez should be “released and allowed to travel”.
Parvez and his organisation the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), has played a key role in documenting and reporting the violations of human rights in troubled Kashmir. During the current unrest, Parvez constantly criticised the killings and blindings of civilians and raised his voice about several allegations of rights violations by security forces.
While some fear that his arrest is to scare the civil society and clamp down the human rights movement in the Valley, others say that it has focussed international spotlight on stealthy arrests, alleged illegal detentions and use of the PSA in the Valley.
Amnesty International’s executive director, Aakar Patel told HT, “Our primary concern is that the state acts per law. It is not acting in the way that it should. In the absence of valid charges it ought not to pick up people randomly and charge them under an Act that we see as being draconian.”
Leading intellectuals and scholars – including Noam Chomsky and Arundhati Roy – and top international rights groups have already appealed for Parvez’s immediate release
Parvez’s lawyers received an official copy of the PSA order and related documents on Friday afternoon.
In the dossier against him, SSP Srinagar has described him as an “anti-social element known for his anti-national activities” and that he has “achieved a prominent position in separatist camps under the hidden cover of being a human rights activist”.
Four FIRs – three in Ram Munshi Bagh and one in Zadibal police station – have been cited against him and the charges are similar to the ones pressed against stone-pelters: Rioting, unlawful assembly, endangering life, and others.
Kashmir’s civil society has raised several questions on the charges.
Firstly, his lawyers have questioned as to why he “never received any intimation prior to this of pending complaints or investigations” at any police station or “has he signed or executed any personal bond or surety in regard to any of these cases”.
Secondly, they ask when four FIRs are mentioned why the copies of only one have been provided to the family.
Thirdly, they claim Parvez was not produced before the deputy commissioner (nor were the grounds read out to him) “as required under law before issuing warrant”.
Repeated phone calls and text messages to divisional commissioner, Kashmir Baseer Ahmed Khan and deputy commissioner Srinagar Farooq Lone went unanswered. Minister of state for law, Ajay Nanda, said he was hopeful that all mandatory protocol was followed in Parvez’s arrest and in case it was not, the person responsible would be held accountable.
But lawyers of those arrested in Kashmir for being “stone-pelters” in the current unrest point out that these are routine practices followed by the police against a person whom they want to detain for long or charge under the PSA -- but it hit the headlines now only because a high profile activist was detained.
The Jammu Kashmir PSA, 1978 allows the state to detain a person without trial for at least six months. Police sources say over 300 people have been booked under the PSA in the current unrest.
Advocate Aijaz Ahmad Dar points that police often name an accused in multiple FIRs filed under different police stations, although the accused, in this case Parvez, had never been intimidated about the charges earlier.
“If you go by rule of law, then if the state is aggrieved of a bail order, they should challenge ‘the bail’. But what they do is they re-arrest the person in some different case. It doesn’t happen in rest of India. A unique practice is going on here,” said Bashir Sidiq, senior advocate and general secretary Jammu and Kashmir high court bar association.
SP Vaid, DGP, coordination and law and order, termed the allegation that police uses “multiple FIRs on one person” as “false”. He explained: “FIR is based on one incident. For one incident, you can’t file different FIRs.”
Political scientist Professor Noor Ahmad Baba points out that in numerous cases involving political prisoners in Kashmir,“ the rule of law has not been followed” and that, he adds “leads to a loss of people’s faith in the state”.
Firebrand separatist leader Masarat Alam, who was put behind bars in late 2010 following his role in the agitation, continues to in prison after being re-arrested on separate charges although the high court had thrice quashed the PSA charges against him and ordered his release.
Enter your email to get our daily newsletter in your inbox
- Giving two weeks to the government to come back with its response, the bench then formally recorded in its order that one of the issues that has caught its attention is “uncontrolled and unscreened viewing of films” on Amazon Prime Video and other OTT platforms.
- The roughly 20,000 centres being used for the vaccine drive at the moment are hospitals, private as well as public, while many primary and secondary health centres at present are kept out of the programme.
- The external affairs ministry, which too rejected Freedom House’s report, also took exception to the depiction of Jammu and Kashmir in the map used in the document.
- A home ministry spokesperson said these rules prepared by the Foreigners’ Division were part of a brochure issued on November 15, 2019. The rules were consolidated and notified on Thursday.
- After the allegations on Jarkiholi, there were unverified reports of several similar videos and other sex scandals against other cabinet ministers.
- India is a signatory to the Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
- On the other hand, the DMK’s stalemate continued with its main and long standing ally, the Congress, on seat sharing.
- The person said it was imperative that the photographs are removed from certificates distributed in the poll bound states, adding that the system can continue in other states.
- Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, former President Pratibha Patil, economist Amartya Sen, cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, spiritual leader Baba Ramdev, chief ministers of states and senior political leaders are among those included in the panel.
- According to Indian agencies, the JeI has maintained that J&K is a disputed territory.
- Interestingly, the election of the six YSRC members comes at a time when a resolution adopted by the Jagan Mohan Reddy government in the state assembly in January 2020, seeking abolition of the legislative council, is still pending with the Union home ministry.
- When the matter came up before a bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and R Subhash Reddy on Friday, the bench adjourned it to April 7 as it had no time for a full fledged hearing.
- Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan also held a review meeting on Friday to discuss with the divisional commissioners the steps being taken to contain the spread of the infection.
- There is a cost difference of about 25-30 per cent in containers made in India and abroad.
- After an agreement last month on pulling back frontline troops along with armoured vehicles and artillery from strategic heights around Pangong Lake, the two sides have been unable to make progress on disengagement at other friction points such as Depsang, Hot Springs and Gogra.