“The Government Wants Control, Not Peace”: An Interview with Khurram Parvez

04 December 2016
Umer Asif

On 14 September 2016, immigration authorities from the Indira Gandhi International airport disallowed Khurram Parvez, a 39-year-old Kashmiri human-rights activist, from boarding a flight to Geneva. Parvez was going there to attend the thirty-third session of the United Nations Human Rights Council session, which was underway at the time.

At around 12.30 am, on 16 September, the Jammu and Kashmir police arrested Parvez from his house in Sonwar, in Srinagar and took him to a sub-jail in Kupwara. Four days later, the principal district and sessions judge of Srinagar set aside his order of detention and ordered his release. As soon as he was released, Parvez was arrested, once again, at the gates of Kupwara sub-jail and detained at the Kupwara police station. On 21 September, police officers transferred him to Kothibag sub-jail where jail officials orally informed him of his detention under the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act, 1978—a law, applicable only in Jammu and Kashmir, which allows an individual to be taken into preventive custody for two years without any charges or a trial. Later that evening, Parvez was transferred to Kot Bhalwal Jail in Jammu.

On 25 November, 76 days after Parvez was first arrested, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court quashed his detention as “illegal.” It also noted that the district magistrate of Srinagar, Farooq Lone, had acted “arbitrarily” and the “detaining authority has abused its powers.” Five days later, Parvez was released.

On 2 December, Moazum Mohammad, a Srinagar-based journalist, met Parvez at his residence. Parvez spoke of his experience in jail, the Public Safety Act, and the need for individual justice and recognition of political rights of the Kashmiri people as the only path towards peace in the region.

Moazum Mohammad: How do you feel about returning home after two-and-a-half months in jail?

Moazum Mohammad is a reporter based in Srinagar.

Keywords: Kashmir Khurram Parvez Public Safety Act
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