Hours after a sessions court ordered the release of human rights activist Khurram Parvez who was arrested from Srinagar by the Jammu and Kashmir police on September 16 – a couple of days after he was prevented by immigration authorities at Delhi airport from leaving for Geneva to attend a United National Human Rights Commission session – he continued to be in police custody.
The Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), of which Parvez is the program coordinator, decried his “continued detention” against “his will”. Although the detention order was set aside late on September 20 evening, JKCCS said the police did not release Parvez. The group also said that at around 2 a.m. on September 21 Parvez was taken by the Ram Munshi Bagh police station personnel from the Kupwara police station to Kothi Bagh police station, Srinagar, but the grounds of his continued detention were not explained.
What stood out was that the court proceedings revealed that a number of illegalities were committed in the manner of arrest and detention of the rights activist. These were pointed out before Rashid Ali Dhar, the principal district and sessions judge, Srinagar, who set aside the detention order of executive magistrate Amin Najar Najar after the latter admitted that he had not seen Parvez personally or issued a showcause for a bail bond, which was required by law.
According to JKCCS, “multiple police illegalities” were pointed out. It said there was “no service of show cause notice. The allegations were not read out or provided to him. No enquiry into the veracity of the allegations. In addition, as submitted by lawyers from the Bar Association and JKCCS, Khurram Parvez was not even brought before the magistrate. At no point was he offered any legal assistance”.
During the proceedings in the court when the sessions judge asked the magistrate to respond to the submission of Parvez’s lawyers, who claimed that the detention was “illegal” and that no showcause notice was served to him for a bail bond, as required under Section 107 of the CrPC, the magistrate said he had nothing to say.
Dhar is then reported to have reprimanded him saying: “Do you know under which section a showcause notice has to be prepared? When did you get the judicial powers?” Najar, a naib tehsildar, said he had passed the order to send Parvez to a jail in Kupwara as the activist “could not produce a guarantor or the personal bond”.
Najar also said that he was told that since Parvez had lost a leg in a landmine blast a decade ago and who walks with a prosthetic leg, he was in a police jeep. Najar further said that he had sent out his orderly to ask Parvez if he was accompanied by someone who could seek bail for him, to which the latter replied that he had no one with him. To this the sessions judge asked if attempts were made to contact Parvez’s family. At this the executive magistrate pleaded that their “phones were not working”.
The JKSS said even after the session judge’s order for Parvez to be released, the state police did not let him walk out free of Kupwara jail. As soon as he was released from the jail, the police took him to Kupwara police station.
Earlier, following a meeting with Parvez on September 19, his family and lawyers had stated that “his specific request about his special needs due to his disability was ignored”. Though the medical officer recorded his disability during the medical examination on September 16, no appropriate measures were taken to accommodate his special needs and the sub-jail Kupwara had no facility for persons with disability.
Parvez had also reiterated that he was never produced in person before the executive magistrate (South Srinagar), and in fact was kept in the police vehicle while the investigating officer left and returned with some papers. He did not intimate Parvez about the proceedings, despite his repeated request that he should have a lawyer. Further he was denied a copy of the order despite his requests.
Khurram also noted that due to the continuing crackdown on the civilian population in the state, a considerable number of political prisoners and protestors, including minors, were in detention in the prison.