People’s Union for Civil Liberties condemns the ongoing attack on civilians by Indian security forces in Kashmir which has resulted in the killings of more than 80 young people, causing injuries to nearly 9000 people and the loss of vision of more than 500 people. PUCL condemns the impunity exercised by Indian Security Forces in perpetrating large-scale human rights violations which have caused a deep crisis, including a humanitarian crisis of the Kashmiri people.
It is in this context that the PUCL would like to highlight the recent illegal detention of human rights defender Khurram Parvez, and the denial of permission to the UNHRC to visit the valley of Jammu and Kashmir.
Khurram Parvez is a human rights defender who is a member of Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), an organisation comprising civil liberties groups, traders, families of disappeared persons, and students. Khurram Parvez and his team were scheduled to address the 33rd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council at Geneva during the hearings in September, 2016 in order to present the case of Kashmiri people reeling under violence from the Indian state subsequent to the extra-judicial killing of Burhan Wani. On the 14th of September 2016, he was prevented from boarding the flight to Geneva by immigration authorities at Delhi airport, on orders from the Intelligence Bureau and detained by security agencies.
Subsequently, Khurram Pervez was taken back to Srinagar. On September 16, he was illegally detained at Kothi Bagh Police Station in Srinagar by the police, on the allegation that he incited a mob to throw stones at the Tourist Reception Centre, Srinagar on September 15. Significantly, he was not notified of the reason for his detention, nor allowed access to a lawyer.
Mr. Khurram Parvez was subsequently transferred to Kupwara sub-jail, isolating him from his family and legal counsel. Khurram Parvez’s legal counsel challenged the detention order passed by Executive Magistrate Mohammad Amin Najar before the Sessions Court. On September 20, the Principal District & Sessions Judge, Srinagar, Rashid Ali Dar set aside the detention orders and directed the J&K Police to release him, but the police flouted this order and took him back to Kothi Bagh Police station, from where he was subsequently taken to Kot Balwal jail in Jammu, 300 kilometres away from Srinagar. His legal counsel were subsequently informed that he was being detained under the Public Safety Act, a legislation which has notoriously been invoked repeatedly for the preventive detention of ordinary civilians in Kashmir. Under the Public Safety Act, Khurram Parvez can be detained for a period between six months and two years. It is important to note that the Public Safety Act is a colonial law under which Bhagat Singh and others were detained during the freedom struggle. While being shunted from one detention centre to another, Mr. Parvez has been repeatedly denied access to essential medical facilities, and has also been isolated from his family, friends and legal counsel.
The Denial of Access to United Nations Human Rights Council
The Indian government has repeatedly blocked all attempts by the UNHRC to intervene and enquire into allegations of human rights abuses by Indian security forces in Kashmir. These abuses not only include the use of pellet guns and other weapons, but also the denial of medical and humanitarian aid to Kashmiris. This has led to a medico-legal crisis, where Kashmiris suffering from pellet-gun injuries do not have access to critical health services and equipment for their treatment, because of the de facto blockade set up by the Indian state in Kashmir. India has disallowed the request by the United Nations High Commissioner of Human Rights, Mr. Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, for conducting an enquiry by independent observers in Kashmir, stating that it is an internal matter. It is clear that the Indian state does not want to be held accountable for its human rights abuses in Kashmir, on the specious plea that it is an internal issue, despite the fact that India is a signatory to various conventions on human rights.
Despite being a signatory to 1998 UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, there have been no measures taken by the Indian state to facilitate the work of human rights defenders, or to prevent their harassment, and the Indian State has in fact been complicit in the targeting of human rights defenders.
We note with serious concern that India’s policy in Kashmir has been marked by a culture of impunity, preventing scrutiny by national judicial mechanisms as well as independent international bodies into the actions of various security agencies of the state and central governments. This is part of a larger design by the Indian state to crush dissent, stifle democratic debate, and silence demands for accountability, thereby suppressing Kashmiri voices articulating their political aspirations and their experiences of human rights violations.
In this context, People’s Union of Civil Liberties in its National Council Meeting held in Delhi on 17th and 18th September, 2016 unanimously passes the following resolutions:
- Khurram Parvez should be released immediately from preventive detention under the Public Safety Act. All proceedings against him under the Public Safety Act should be dropped immediately.
The Indian Government should immediately grant permission to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to visit Kashmir valley and enable it to conduct an independent enquiry into human rights abuses in Kashmir, including the suppression of their democratic rights.
Prof. Prabhakar Sinha
National President, PUCL
Dr. V. Suresh,
National General Secretary, PUCL