Share this article by Sabarish Suresh and demand for an immediate release for Pervez Khurram.
Just as the news of violence from the Kashmir valley is gradually fading to just the news bulletin on our TV sets, and when Cauvery and the Shivpal- Yadav settlement is being the gossip of the town, comes a story of how yet another human rights activist has been miserably hounded by the Indian State.
The Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Societies (JKCCS) is a coalition of various non-funded, non-profit organizations such as the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP), Public Commission on Human Rights (PCHR), International Peoples’ Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Indian-administered Kashmir (IPTK), Asian Federation against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD), and Coordination of Democratic Rights Organizations (CDRO) among others.
The JKCCS have been engaging in various instances of human rights violations, extra judicial killings and military excesses since 2000. One of the most vociferous activists of JKCCS who is also its programme coordinator and the Chairperson of AFAD is Pervez Khurram.
The JKCCS, as can be clearly observed in their website, have meticulously documented the voluminous number of violations and excesses of the valley over a number of years and have ensured that the massive number of crimes committed by the Indian Army does in no way go unaccountable. As a matter of fact, JKCCS is the backbone behind the Public Interest Litigation filed in 2013 in the Kunan Poshpora mass rape of 1991.
Pervez Khurram, along with JKCCS President and lawyer Pervez Imroz, activists Mary Aileen Diez Bacalso and Ron de Vera and lawyer Kartik Murukutla were set to attend the 33rd session of the United Nations Human Rights Commission scheduled from 14th to 24th September to represent and speak on the excesses and torn state of affairs that the Kashmir valley has erupted into. As is expected of the conspicuously guilty Indian administration, Khurram was detained in the Delhi Airport and was not allowed to travel to Geneva by the immigration officers on the 14th of September. Not only was this one of the most important visits of the human rights team for the UNHRC session, but also for the reason that this visit entailed briefing the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights regarding the morbid and bloody state of the Kashmir valley. JKCCS was also to taken part in India’s Universal Periodic Review [a four year review process of UN States by the Human Rights Council] to be held in April/May 2017.
The High Seat of Delhi, possibly anticipating harsh backlash from the United Nations, and in a fit to ensure that Kashmir does not raise onto become an international concern of human rights (stifling of which has been attempted several times before), detained Pervez Khurram at 12:30 a.m. on the 16th of September when he returned to Srinagar. Having first lodged in the Kothi Bagh police station, without informing grounds of detention (as is a legal requirement), and detained for more than 12 hours, Khurram was then transferred to the Kupwara sub jail at around 11:45 p.m. pursuant to a 10 day remand order by a magistrate on grounds of sections 107 and 151 of the Criminal Procedure Code [detention for breach of peace and design to commit cognizable offence].
In a cascade of whirling ironies, Section 107 is a measure of preventive detention for possible breach of peace, whilst JKCCS has been tirelessly engaged in ensuring that the bloodshed and brutal killings committed by the army is put to halt, and held accountable for. As wise old man Orwell set the story, war seems to be the preferred normality of peace, and any attempt to actually break war, prevent transgressions and restore peace becomes cause for breach of the Kashmir law’s strange imagination of peace. In an almost startling conundrum, law’s envisage of peace arises from a cloud of war, being a part of it, and seems to act as if the ongoing war is a required and necessary status quo, which it already has become the everyday reality of the valley since months.
Khurram’s detention and arrest is just symptomatic of the larger environment of a regime of occupation, wherein administrative repression and systemic authoritarianism have an almost surer and firmer course than the Jhelum. Where pellets are non-lethal, impunity upheld for criminals and death is a sacred requirement for a day to complete, Khurram’s hounding is only a ritual in this established tradition. In a life where conflict and fear can be felt in the wind and unrest can be heard in the sound, desolation has undoubtedly become the shadow of peace.
“They make a desolation, and call it peace”- Agha Shahid Ali
(Sabarish Suresh is a fourth year law student from O.P Jindal Global University, Haryana. He is interested in Criminal Law and Human Rights and also actively writes on gender and sexuality.)