World Bulletin / News Desk
The detention of a Kashmiri human rights activist on Wednesday, the day after a court had ordered his release from a previous arrest, has prompted concerns that Indian authorities have stepped up their use of laws that allow detention without trial.
Khurram Parvez was due to be released after being arrested a week earlier but has instead been moved to prison after the Jammu and Kashmir state government approved a Public Safety Act (PSA) order, which allows administrative detention without trial for up to six months.
His arrest added him to a quickly growing list of Kashmiris who have been given PSA orders since the protests against Indian rule, which have seen at least 88 killed by Indian forces and 9,000 injured, began in July.
According to official documents given to Anadolu Agency, the Jammu and Kashmir government has stepped up its use of PSA orders, recommending them against 279 civilians over the past 15 days, compared to 105 in the first two months of the ongoing crisis.
According to the documents, out of the total 484 orders recommended, at least 398 have already been sanctioned. The orders have been used to arrest people across the disputed Himalayan region, as the Indian authorities attempt to quell the ongoing pro-independence agitation.
Nayem Akhter, a spokesperson for the Jammu and Kashmir government, told the Indian Express newspaper that the decision against Parvez "must have been taken on merit."
A day before he was first arrested on September 15 in Srinagar, Parvez was stopped in Delhi from boarding the flight to Geneva, where he was going to attend the 33rd session of U.N. Human Rights Commission (UNHRC).
Human rights groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights watch have called the PSA law used to detain Parvez "draconian."
“Administrative detention laws such as the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act allow for people to be detained without charge or trial. These laws have often been used to hold individuals in arbitrary detention on vague grounds for long periods of time, ignoring regular criminal justice safeguards,” Amnesty International said in a statement on Wednesday.
Amnesty said Parvez should be released or charged "with a recognizable criminal offence" and given a fair trial.
His family claimed the government was "cooking up charges" against the activist, who chairs the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances.
“It is an attempt to muzzle any voices of dissent that spoke against the Indian repression and killings of civilians in Kashmir,” Parvez’s wife told Anadolu Agency.
While monitoring general elections in 2004, Parvez's vehicle was hit by a land mine and he lost his leg in the blast. In 2006, he was awarded with the Reebok Human Rights Award, a prominent international prize for non-violent activism.
Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full.
The two countries have fought three wars – in 1948, 1965 and 1971 – since they were partitioned in 1947, two of which were fought over Kashmir.
Since 1989, Kashmiri resistance groups in Indian-held Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence or for unification with neighboring Pakistan.
More than 70,000 people have reportedly been killed in the conflict so far, most of them by the Indian Armed forces. India maintains more than half a million troops in the disputed regions.