Khurram Parvez Released After 76 Days in Detention

Despite courts repeatedly finding no valid grounds for his incarceration, the state kept the noted human rights activist incarcerated under the Public Safety Act.

After two and a half months in detention noted human rights activist, Khurram Parvez was released by the Jammu and Kashmir authorities at noon on Wednesday. Parvez was arrested on September 16 when he returned to Srinagar after authorities at the New Delhi airport denied him permission to go to Geneva for a Human Rights Council meet.

Stating that Parvez was “set at liberty after 76 days of incarceration”, the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) – of which he is the founder and president – claimed that Parvez was “in good health and spirits” and had expressed “his overwhelming gratitude to the local and international solidarity campaign for his release.”

Though a sessions court dismissed the executive magistrate’s order on September 20 and ordered the prison’s authorities in Kupwara to release Parvez immediately, instead of releasing him, the state government had booked and detained him under the Public Safety Act (PSA). This law allowed the state to detain Parvez for up to six months.

The PSA warrant issued by the deputy commissioner of Srinagar referred to four cases registered by the police against Parvez and  also noted his role as an “instigator” in these cases.

“You have achieved a prominent position in the separatist camp under a hidden cover of being a human rights activist,” said the warrant, adding, “in the ongoing unrest, you have been found [to be] instigating and advocating the disgruntled elements to resort to illegal activities”.

Parvez was also accused of wielding “a considerable clout in the secessionist circles”, “supporting the [protest] programme calendars” of the separatists and “utilising the youth to resort to violence or gathering so-called human rights activists”.

On November 25, the Jammu and Kashmir high court quashed this detention order, issued under the PSA, stating that it was “not only illegal” but also an “abuse of power” and then ordered Parvez’s immediate release. But once again it took a full five days for the authorities to release him. Initially, there was a delay because of an error in the court order which was delivered to the jail authorities but they had failed to release him even after a corrected order was served to them on November 29.

Rather, Parvez was taken from Kot Bhalwal Jail by personnel from the counter-intelligence wing of the Jammu & Kashmir police (CIJ) to the ” Joint Interrogation Centre at Meeran Sahib,Jammu which is about 20 kms away from Kot Bhalwal Jail,” JKCCS stated.

On Wednesday though, the organisation said, Parvez was formally released from police custody from the Joint Interrogation Centre, Jammu, at noon.

The organisation’s spokesperson added that Parvez’s release only marks an intensification of his work. “The struggle for the release of Khurram Parvez is a part of the larger struggle against unlawful detentions, state impunity and the use of repressive laws such as PSA in J&K. JKCCS reiterates its commitment to the struggle for truth, justice and the rights of all people of Jammu and Kashmir,” the organisation stated.

Incidentally, Parvez’s detention had come under attack from both civil rights groups and international organisations. A group of UN experts had even called for Parvez’s 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”.