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 (JKC)1 and the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP)2, and 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 March 27, 2022, officers from the National Investigation Agency (NIA), assisted by the local police, raided Mr. Parvez’s residence in the Sonwar Bagh area, in the city of Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, seizing unrevealed documents related to financial transactions. This raid was conducted in connection with an investigation launched in October 2020 into several NGOs and trusts in India and abroad 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). According to the First Information Report (FIR) in this case, “the NGOs, trust and societies and their members, by words and written means, publish anti-national and incriminating material to bring into hatred, contempt and disaffection towards the Government of India”.
The Observatory recalls that on October 28, 2020, officials from the NIA, assisted by local police and central reserve police forces officials, conducted nine simultaneous raids in Srinagar and another one in Bandipora, in Jammu and Kashmir, on the premises of several NGOs and the houses of JKCCS members, including Khurram Parvez’s.
On March 24, 2022, Mr. Parvez’s pre-trial detention period in another case was extended by 50 days by the NIA Special Court in New Delhi, with the approval of Judge Praveen Singh under Section 43d(2) (b) of the UAPA. This section allows for the extension of the detention period for up to 180 days should the investigation agency be unable to complete the investigation of a case within a period of 90 days.
The Observatory recalls that on November 22, 2021, after his house and the JKCCS office in the city of Srinagar were raided for approximately 14 hours and his electronic devices and several documents seized, Khurram Parvez was taken into questioning to the premises on the NIA in Srinagar, in relation to an alleged terror funding case. Khurram Parvez 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. Judge Parveen Singh ordered his pre-trial detention in the Tihar maximum security prison, where he remained detained at the time of publication of this Urgent Appeal. The Observatory expresses its utmost concern over the high risk of torture and ill-treatment he faces while in custody.
The Observatory strongly condemns the raids on Khurram Parvez’s house as well as his ongoing arbitrary detention on trumped-up charges. The Observatory reiterates its concern over the misuse of the UAPA by the Indian 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.
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, 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: firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: @narendramodi
Mr. Amit Shah, Union Minister of Home Affairs of India, Email: email@example.com
Mr. Ajay Kumar Bhalla, Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs of India, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr. N.V. Ramana, Chief Justice of India, Supreme Court of India, Email: email@example.com
Mr. Shri Bimbadhar Pradhan, IAS, Secretary General Chief Executive Officer
of the National Human Rights Commission of India, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: @India_NHRC
Mr. Indrajeet Kumar, Focal Point on Human Rights Defenders, National Human Rights Commission of India, Email: email@example.com
H.E. Mr. Rajiv Kumar Chander, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of India located in your country.