(By Abdul Majid Zargar)
The worst fears of human rights advocates were realized on 15th September when noted human rights defender from Kashmir, Khurram Parvez, was prevented at Delhi Airport from boarding a flight to Geneva, where he was scheduled to attend the ongoing United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) session. The next day he was illegally detained in a Srinagar Police Station and finally arrested .Latest reports suggest that he has been shifted to Kuwara Jail. As usual, details of the relevant provisions of law, under which he has been booked, have not been furnished
Khurram Pervez, an internationally known activist for human rights advocacy, is presently Chairperson of Asian Federation Against involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) and Program Coordinator of Jammu & Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS). He is a Reebok Human Rights Awardee, a prestigious international prize that is conferred on young activists who have made significant contributions to human rights causes through nonviolent means”. The Govt. has not offered any explanation for the drastic step of his arrest but the only apparent reason seems to prevent him from disseminating information on worst types of human rights abuses amounting to ‘war crimes’ & ‘crimes against humanity’ committed by rouge Indian State in Kashmir in collaboration with local judas & cooperative quislings on a daily basis.
In Kashmir, the human rights defenders have always been at the receiving end of the State’s brutality. The meticulously planned assassination of Dr. Abdul Ahad Guroo, targeted Killing of Dr. Ashai and brutal murder of Jaleel Andrabi are a few instances among many. Even an attempt on the life of Khurram was made earlier in which he lost his colleague ,Asiya Jeelani & his own limb . The fault lines of India’s flawed Kashmir policy are becoming visible with each passing day. Here the perpetrators of human rights violations are being conferred with awards like Civilian connotations, legislative memberships, Govt. posts, monetary inducements and their defenders with punishments of death, arrests and harassments.
What wrong did Khurram Commit to merit deportation & arrest? In a place where killing, blinding, torture, rapes, disappearances in custody, violations of the privacy of homes and denial of right to a fair trial is common & routine –did he commit any crime by bringing these to the notice of international forums so that these are put to an end? Kashmir has become a valley of tears, death and cemetery of known and unknown martyrs. The truth of what is happening here needs to be told to the world to bring an end to continuing human misery.
Brutality by the state and the silencing of human rights defenders is no option for India. Forcing Shapiro (husband of Angina Chatter-a human rights defender) to return to the U.S., threatening Arundhati Roy with sedition, deporting Gautam Navlakha and now arresting Khurram Parvez illustrate how deep State wants to muzzle saner voices in Kashmir. A culture of impunity has been allowed to flourish in the state, allowing perpetual harassment and killing of those-who-dare-to-speak to continue unchecked.
While India describes itself as the world’s largest functioning democracy, its democratic aspirations look risible in the context of the ongoing denial of rights and violations of international law in occupied Kashmir. Does a democracy need garrisons and army brigades to impose its authority on civilian cities, towns and hamlets on a daily basis for decades? The answer is “No”..Democracies empower people to make decisions. They offer opportunities for people to even secede from state unions, as was afforded to Quebecois in Canada and Northern Ireland in Great Britain. Such are democratic principles. Real democracies don’t impose draconian laws like the Armed Forces Special Power Act or the Public Safety Act. They do not use laws governing unlawful assemblies (section 144) to curb movements of a single individual. They do not impose declared & undeclared curfews & arrest people in their own houses. As very rightly observed by the head of the ad hoc delegation to Kashmir of the European Parliament, John Walls Cushnahan, Kashmir is “the world’s most beautiful prison”
But let us not lose heart. There are many people in India who firmly believe that India is treading a wrong & self-destructive path in Kashmir, increasing the distance between the State & Kashmiri people, not by yards but miles, with each passing day. As an Indian writer put it succinctly “As an Indian I believe in the Constitution of India. I endorse the Kashmiris’ right to demand independence from India because the values of occupation are not the values of the founding fathers of the Indian Constitution. Forcing a nation to identify itself with the Indian Union is not the spirit of Indian Constitution. If the idea of India is one where the self appointed guardians of nationalism decide what national interest is and then want to see in jail those who don’t agree with that version of national interest, we must all secede from such an India. We are all Kashmiris!”
(The author is a practicing chartered Accountant. Feed back abdulmajidzargar@gmail .com)