The J&K Police have arrested a well-known Kashmiri human rights defender from his home in Srinagar late this evening. This is a day after he was stopped in Delhi by authorities to board a flight to Geneva where he was going to attend the ongoing United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) session.
Khurram Pervez (39), who is presently Chairperson of Asian Federation Against involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) and Program Coordinator of Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), has been kept in Kothibagh Police Station. Despite repeated attempts, the police officers were not available to comment on the arrest.
This is the first such high profile arrest of a human rights activist in Kashmir in the recent past and is seen as part of government’s crackdown on civil society in the valley that is critical of the Mehbooba Mufti led government’s use of excessive force to quell the current uprising.
According to Pervez’s family members, he had returned home from Delhi this morning. The family members said that the police officials from Kothibagh Police station called him in the evening asking him to visit the police station because Superintendent of Police wanted to speak to him. “He called the SP and told him he will come at 10 am tomorrow,’’ a relative said. “Late in the night, a police party came to his home, asking him to accompany them to the police station. There wasn’t any police officer in the police station at that time. They told us that he would have to stay in the police station”. Pervez’s family members said that the police didn’t give any reasons for the arrest.
On Wednesday, Pervez was stopped by Immigration authorities at IGI airport in Delhi and disallowed to board a flight to Geneva. “At around 1.30 am, as I was about to board my flight to Geneva, I was stopped at immigration and detained for one-and-a-half hours. The officer had stamped my boarding pass but they subsequently disallowed me to proceed to board the flight,’’ he had told The Indian Express. Pervez had also said that he was “only orally informed that immigration officers had instructions that he was not to be arrested, but that he should not be allowed to leave the country”.
While Pervez was not allowed to board a flight to Geneva by the Immigration officials at IGI on Wednesday morning, the authorities subsequently allowed his two other colleagues, lawyers Parvez Imroz and Kartik Murukutla, to travel to attend ongoing United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) session.
A statement issued by the JKCCS said that Pervez “is not being allowed to travel because he has been highlighting violations of human rights. Preventing him from travelling is an attempt to criminalize the human rights campaign and documentation work which JKCCS has been involved in for the last several years”.