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Published in the 16-31 May 2005 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

"I will live and die in Kashmir for justice, peace and truth": HR activist

The Milli Gazette Online

Srinagar: Parvez Imroz, president of the Jammu & Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), has accused the Indian Army and Jammu & Kashmir Government of conspiring to eliminate him. Army and the Government are after my life, Imroz told reporters in Srinagar on 30 April, after an unidentified man who, he said, was a government-sponsored gunman knocked at his house at Kralpora area in the wee hours of that day. The man said he wanted to discuss some case with me. But I had already told my wife not to open the door to any stranger as many human rights defenders have been eliminated before, Imroz said, adding that he was at a loss to understand what case the man wanted to discuss at 5.30 am.

Since there are restrictions on civilian movement during the night across the Kashmir Valley over the past 15 years, Imroz said his suspicion was natural. An ordinary man cannot move so early in the morning. I'm convinced that he was a renegade gunman sent by the army to eliminate me, he claimed, adding that the man left after 15 minutes but not before banging the door in frustration.

The Army has been pained after the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP), a constituent of the JKCCS, laid the foundation-stone for a monument in memory of the disappeared in Srinagar on April 21.

The Army has taken the issue seriously. They don't want that the monument should come up, Imroz said. The Army has even started harassing the residents of Narbal on the outskirts of Srinagar where the stone for the memorial was laid. Earlier in June 2001 the state police had demolished the foundation-stone for a similar monument a day after it was erected at Eidgah martyrs graveyard in this city. Only two days ago, he said, the Indian Border Security Force (BSF) troops barged into a local hotel where the JKCCS members and some civil society activists from Mumbai were discussing the design and other things related to the upcoming monument.

Imroz reminded that many human rights defenders, like Advocate Jalil Andrabi, have been eliminated by the government agencies in Kashmir during the past 15 years. Only last year, senior lawyer Peer Husssamud-din Banday was killed in his house by a gunman who had apparently come to discuss a case.

The Government doesn't want that the crimes committed here by the Army, particularly the phenomenon of enforced disappearance, should be known to the world community, JKCCS members told the media, adding that the veiled and open threats to human rights defenders speak volumes about the situation here despite the recent confidence-building measures between India and Pakistan.

Imroz said his scared family has shifted to a relative's house following today's incident. But I won't leave this place. I'll live and die here for the cause of justice, peace and truth, he said.

  Khurram Parvez

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