National

Khurram Parvez released

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Prominent human rights defender Khurram Parvez was released after 76-days on November 30. Khurram was booked under Public Safety Act (PSA) on September 21 and lodged in Kot Balwal jail in Jammu. He was arrested from his residence here on September 16, a day after he was barred from boarding a flight to Geneva where he was scheduled to attend a meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Terming his detention illegal, Jammu and Kashmir High Court quashed his detention and ordered his immediate release (November 25). The Court termed Khurram’s detention under PSA not only “illegal” but “abuse of power” and ordered his release, but the activist was held back due to a minor error in the date of the issue of PSA warrant at one place in the order. Later, he was shifted to Joint Interrogation Centre (JIC) at Meeran Sahib, Jammu from Kot Balwal jail wherefrom he was finally released on November 30.

After his release Khurram in his Facebook post (November 30) wrote, “I am happy to be back amongst my family and friends. I am deeply touched by the love and solidarity expressed by so many friends from across the world. This 76 day detention was a difficult time for me, my family and colleagues. Difficult times are also opportunities, if only we make them so. I commit myself to not let this detention be a hard memory of my life but an opportunity that has enabled me to reflect, read and plan my future work for justice and peace. I won’t let this difficulty make me bitter, instead my resolve for peace and justice has got strengthened. I want all of you to be hopeful.”

The state government had on November 24 (in the High Court) described Khurram as “an anti-social element” while justifying his preventive detention. Additional Advocate General Mohammad Iqbal Dar, while objecting to his release, argued that when Khurram went to jail, there were “three suitcases with him” and he carried “foreign clothing”. He further argued “our schools are closed. Our education system is ruined. Development of the state has been put on hold because of these people.”

Police had invoked sections 107/151 CrPC against 39-year-old Khurram, who is chairperson of the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) and programme coordinator of human rights group, Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, after his arrest on September 16. Then he was sent to Kupwara sub-jail and released only to be re-arrested outside the sub-jail. On September 22, district magistrate Srinagar, Farooq Ahmad Lone, booked him under PSA and he was taken to Kot Balwal jail Jammu. The state government had rejected an application of his family (in September) stating that the activist shouldn’t be shifted to Jammu as he is physically challenged. Khurram lost one of his legs during a landmine blast in 2004.    

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 December 2016 on page no. 10

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