On the arrest of Khurram Parvez – leading Kashmiri Human Rights defender

Khurram Parvez, in the front-row of human rights defenders in Jammu and Kashmir, has been arrested late last night from his home just down-street from Gupkar, the street the cream of collaborators, including Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, live and breath in. Khurram had just returned home after immigration authorities had stopped him from travelling to Geneva to attend the United Nations Human Rights session.

At Srinagar, Khurram works with the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS). The group is criticised by large sections of Kashmiri society for inserting themselves at a very mild point in the political discourse in Kashmir. People are frustrated that JKCCS’s focus on mere human rights abuse (which people believe, rather mistakenly, rarely includes the right to self-determination) distracts from the main issue of azadi from Indian occupation. This frustration has on occasion even led to Khurram and co. being accused of being Indian “agents”.

Kashmiris are weak, microscopically puny compared to the mighty occupying Indian state. Outnumbered, outgunned, outmoneyed; the world seems to have forsaken us. Even our closest friend, Pakistan, dilly dallies, despite being a nuclear power. Every Kashmiri is acutely aware of this. But we are never outspirited. Nor can we be. A war has been thrust upon us and we must fight.

But wars have rules. Wars can be fought on the basis of mutual respect, within a certain paradigm of ethics. Discursive fights over truth can subsume more direct measures. India wants the territory of Kashmir, Kashmiris want to be free, this conundrum could be solved on a dialogue table instead of a police lock-up or a torture cell. People like Khurram try to help set up this table.

But India knows that it has no cards to play with on a dialogue table, hence it has unleased a total war on Kashmiris which can only result in azadi or our annihilation as a people.

Every time India kicks a chair away on the dialogue table, it invites a kick from the other side as well. A growing understanding in Kashmir is that state terrorism can only be countered by non-state terrorism.

India is well aware of this. Confident of its ability to deal with the worst possible way Kashmiris can retaliate, with the new-found economic prosperity of its middle-class and a world of Islamophobia and Sunni-Shia divide, it wants to destroy the space for any other way to respond. By this it wants to show Kashmiris that they are nothing, less than nothing, mere dust; atomic.

But when you reduce something to atomic, it can go nuclear.


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Arif Ayaz Parrey Written by:

Arif Ayaz Parrey was born and brought up between Islamabad and Anantnag, Kashmir. He studied law at Aligarh Muslim University.

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