SRINAGAR: Police have arrested a prominent human rights activist in India-held Kashmir a day after he was barred from leaving India to travel to Geneva to participate in a session of the United Nations’ Human Rights Council, police and family members said on Friday.

Police picked up Khurram Parvez from his home in Srinagar late on Thursday night.

A police officer, speaking on condition of anonymity because of department policy, said Parvez was arrested to prevent him from “causing a breach of peace”. He did not elaborate.

On Wednesday, immigration officials at New Delhi’s international airport barred Parvez from boarding a plane to Geneva, even though he had a valid visa and letter of invitation from the UN body.

Khurram Parvez stopped from travelling to Geneva to attend meeting of UNHRC

His arrest comes as the disputed Himalayan region has been hit by some of the most serious anti-India protests in recent years. Triggered by the killing of a popular militant leader two months ago, the protests have left at least 80 people killed and thousands wounded, mostly by government forces firing bullets and shotgun pellets to quell the demonstrations.

Parvez and his organisation, the Coalition of Civil Society, were the first to report and draw attention to thousands of mass graves in remote parts of India-held Kashmir and to demand that the government investigate them to make clear who the dead were and how they were killed.

His organisation also has written scathing reports about brutality involving some of the hundreds of thousands of Indian troops in the disputed region and highlighted widespread powers granted to troops which led to a culture of impunity and widespread rights abuses. Anti-Indian protests continued on Friday as the region remained under strict curfew to prevent widespread demonstrations as people gathered for Friday prayers. Prayers were barred at the major mosques in the region but people were allowed to gather in smaller local mosques.

Hundreds of protesters chanted anti-India slogans in several places across the region.

Most people in the India-held portion of Kashmir favour independence or a merger with Pakistan.

Published in Dawn September 17th, 2016



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