Although the high court ordered he be released, Parvez remains in custody and has now been handed over to the intelligence wing of the state police.
There now appears to be a deliberate attempt by the authorities in Jammu and Kashmir to keep award-winning human rights activist Khurram Parvez behind bars despite the high court quashing his detention order last week. While the state administration and jail authorities had initially delayed his release on grounds of a clerical error, on Tuesday evening, when the copy of the court order was served to the jail authorities at Kot Bhalwal jail in Jammu, they reportedly handed Parvez over to the counter intelligence wing of the state police instead of releasing him.
In a Facebook post, the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, of which Parvez is founder and president, said: “Today the corrected copy of the order of J&K High court quashing the detention of Human Rights Defender Khurram Parvez was served to the jail authorities at Kot Bhalwal jail Jammu at about 3 p.m. for the immediate release of Khurram Parvez.”
“Instead of releasing him, at 5:20 pm he was taken from Kot Bhalwal Jail by the personnel of counter intelligence wing of Jammu & Kashmir Police (CIJ) to the Joint Interrogation Centre at Meeran Sahib, Jammu which is about 20 kms away from Kot Bhalwal Jail,” the organisation went on to say.
Claiming that “no information regarding the grounds of continued detention was provided to Khurram Parvez or to his legal counsel”, the organisation said it was awaiting his release.
The Wire had previously reported how Parvez’s release has been delayed for the second time despite there being a court order in his favour.
The high court had on November 25 quashed the detention order issued under the Public Safety Act (PSA), stating that it was “not only illegal” but also “abuse of power”, but due to a minor error in the date of the issue of the PSA warrant at one spot in the order, Parvez was not released over the weekend.
Incidentally, Parvez who was on September 14 denied permission by the authorities at Indira Gandhi International Airport to leave for Geneva to attend a session of the UN Human Rights Council and subsequently arrested by the Jammu and Kashmir police from his residence at Sonawar in Srinagar early on September 16, was also not released from prison after a sessions court had on September 20 set aside the order of the executive magistrate and ordered the jail authorities in Kupwara to set him free immediately. He was then also not allowed to leave and was booked and detained under the PSA.
His detention had come in for scathing criticism from civil society organisations and international organisations, including the UN. A group of UN experts had even called for his release stating that “his continued detention following his arrest just a few days before his participation in the UN Human Rights Council, suggests a deliberate attempt to obstruct his legitimate human rights activism”.