The Observatory has been informed about the ongoing arbitrary detention of prominent human rights defender Mr. Khurram Parvez, as well as the recent raid on his house. Mr. Parvez is the Coordinator of the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS)1 and the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP)2, and the Chairperson of the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD)3. Mr. Parvez is also 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.
On May 13, 2022, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) filed a charge sheet before the NIA Special Court in New Delhi against Khurram Parvez under Sections 120B and 121A of the Indian Penal Code (“criminal conspiracy” and “punishment for conspiracy to wage war against the government of India”, respectively), Section 8 of the Prevention of Corruption Act (“taking gratification, in order, by corrupt or illegal means, to influence public servant”) and Sections 13, 18, 18B, 38 and 39 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) (“unlawful activities”, “conspiracy”, “recruiting any person or persons for commission of a terrorist act”, “offence relating to membership of a terrorist organisation” and “giving support to a terrorist organisation”, respectively). The NIA accuses Khurram Parvez of “running a network of over ground workers of the [Pakistan-based terrorist organisation] Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) for furthering activities of LeT and to commit terrorist attacks in India”, according to the press release published by NIA on May 13, 2022. The document further states that the investigation into this case is ongoing.
The case will be heard on July 6, 2022, at the NIA Special Court in New Delhi. At the time of publication of this Urgent Appeal, Khurram Parvez remains detained at the Tihar maximum security prison in Delhi, where he faces high risk of ill-treatment.
The Observatory recalls that Khurram Parvez was arbitrarily arrested on November 22, 2021, by NIA officers following 14-hour raids on his house and the JKCCS office in the city of Srinagar, during which his electronic devices and several documents were seized. He was taken to New Delhi on November 24, 2021, where he remained detained under NIA’s custody until December 4, 2021. On that day, he appeared before the NIA Special Court in New Delhi, and Judge Parveen Singh ordered his pre-trial detention in the Tihar maximum security prison. On March 24, 2022, the NIA Special Court in Delhi extended his pre-trial detention by 50 days under Section 43d(2) (b) of the UAPA.
The Observatory further recalls that Khurram Parvez’s house in Srinagar was raided again on March 27, 2022, by NIA officers and local police in connection with another investigation launched in October 2020 into several NGOs and trusts in India and abroad. This investigation is being conducted pursuant to Articles 120B, 124A of the Indian Penal Code and Sections 17, 18, 22A, 22C, 38, 39, and 40 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
The Observatory strongly condemns the ongoing arbitrary detention on trumped-up charges of Khurram Parvez as well as the politically motivated attempts by Indian authorities to silence prominent human rights defenders and to discredit them by labelling them as terrorists. The Observatory reiterates its concern over the misuse of the UAPA by the authorities to target human rights defenders and silence dissent and condemns all acts of harassment and persecution of human rights defenders in India.
Moreover, the Observatory recalls that the arbitrary detention of Khurram Parvez takes place in a context of an increased crackdown on civil society by the Indian government, notably by bringing politically motivated criminal cases against human rights defenders, student activists, journalists, and other critics of the government under sedition, terrorism, and other repressive legal provisions, with the aim to silence critical voices in the country.
The Observatory urges the authorities of India to immediately and unconditionally release Khurram Parvez and drop all charges against him, as his detention is arbitrary and only aimed at punishing him for his peaceful and legitimate human rights activities.
Geneva-Paris, May 17, 2022
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The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH. The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. OMCT and FIDH are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.
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How You Can Help
Please write to the authorities in India, urging them to:
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Khurram Parvez and all other human rights defenders in India;
ii. Immediately and unconditionally release Khurram Parvez and put an end to all acts of harassment against him and all other human rights defenders in India, including acts of stigmatisation and smear campaigns, and ensure that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals in all circumstances;
iii. Guarantee Khurram Parvez’s right to due process and fair trial;
iv. Immediately put an end to the use of repressive laws to target human rights defenders, ensure its compliance with international human rights standards, and repeal the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
- Mr. Narendra Damodardas Modi, Prime Minister of India, E-mail: email@example.com, Twitter: @narendramodi
- Mr. Amit Shah, Union Minister of Home Affairs of India, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Mr. Ajay Kumar Bhalla, Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs of India, Email: email@example.com
- Mr. N.V. Ramana, Chief Justice of India, Supreme Court of India, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Mr. Shri Devendra Kumar Singh, IAS, Secretary General Chief Executive Officer
of the National Human Rights Commission of India, Email: email@example.com, Twitter: @India_NHRC
- Mr. Indrajeet Kumar, Focal Point on Human Rights Defenders, National Human Rights Commission of India, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- H.E. Mr. Rajiv Kumar Chander, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Email: email@example.com
Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of India located in your country.