Indian authorities release prominent Kashmir rights activist
Authorities in Indian-controlled Kashmir released a prominent human-rights activist from prison yesterday after a court in the disputed region ruled that his detention under a controversial security law was illegal.
Police freed Khurram Parvez after the court ordered his release five days earlier.
Indian authorities charged Parvez in September under the Public Safety Act, which allows detentions for up to two years without trial.
The court said Parvez had been imprisoned arbitrarily and that authorities had abused their power by ordering his detention.
Parvez said on his Facebook page that the 76 days of detention were a difficult time for him and his family.
"I won't let this difficulty make me bitter, instead my resolve for peace and justice has got strengthened," he said.
International human-rights groups, academics, the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances,and several UN special rapporteurs had campaigned for his release.
Parvez is the programme coordinator and spokesman of a Kashmiri rights group, the Jammu-Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society. It expressed "overwhelming gratitude to the local and international solidarity campaign for his release that was crucial in securing his freedom."
STRUGGLE FOR TRUTH
"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," the group said in a statement. It said it "reiterates its commitment to the struggle for truth, justice and the rights of all people" in the region.
Shortly before Parvez's arrest, immigration officials at New Delhi's international airport had barred him from boarding a plane to Geneva without offering any official explanation, although he had a valid visa and a letter of invitation to participate in a session of the UN Human Rights Council.
Police arrested him after he returned home to Kashmir's main city of Srinagar, saying it was to prevent him from "causing a breach of peace." A local court then ordered his release, but police rearrested him at the prison gate and charged him under the Public Safety Act.
Parvez, 39, and his rights group were the first to publicise thousands of unmarked graves in remote parts of Kashmir and to demand that the Indian government investigate them and determine who the dead were and how they were killed.
His organisation also has written scathing reports about brutality by some of the hundreds of thousands of Indian troops in the region and highlighted the widespread powers granted to them, which led to a culture of impunity and rights abuses.