Human rights body seeks inquiry into Kashmir politician’s alleged torture in detention

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A human rights body has sought a time-bound inquiry into allegations of torture in the detention of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leader Waheed Para, who is currently lodged in Central Jail Srinagar.

The Forum for Human rights in Jammu and Kashmir has released its third report “Two years of lockdown” – on the region this week demanding an end to the “human rights violations” in the region and time-bound inquiry into allegations of Para’s torture in detention.

On 25 November 2020, Para who is an elected District Development Council (DDC) member from south Kashmir’s militant hotbed Pulwama district was arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on alleged militancy charges and held in their custody for one month at their headquarters in New Delhi, where he was allegedly subjected to ill-treatment. 

Shortly after his release Para was detained by the Counter Intelligence Kashmir (CIK) wing of Jammu and Kashmir Police in connection with their investigations into the alleged links of unnamed J-K politicians with Pakistan and militants, as per news reports.

The report that came in wake of the second anniversary of 5 August, the day Jammu and Kashmir’s limited autonomy guaranteed under Article 35A and 370 was abrogated, has recommended the release of all remaining political prisoners who were taken into preventive detention on or after 4 August 2019.

In wake of the Centre’s decision of abrogating Article 370 and 35A many activists, civilians, politicians were either detained in houses or arrested and sent to jails. Article 35A and Article 370, two laws had guaranteed demographic protection to Jammu and Kashmir as well as the autonomous status to the region. 

The 78-page report published by the forum seeks withdrawal of substantiated charges under the PSA and controversial law- UAPA (Unlawful Activities Prevention Act) against political leaders, journalists, and activists. It has been said that authorities should strictly implement the rights to bail and speedy trial.

“Repeal the PSA (Public Safety Act) and other preventive detention legislations or amend them to bring them in line with our constitutional ethos,” the report has pointed out.

The Forum comprises an informal group of concerned citizens who believe that “in the prevailing situation in the former state, an independent initiative is required so that continuing human rights violations do not go unnoticed.”

It consists of Justice Madan B. Lokur, former judge of the Supreme Court of India, Ramchandra Guha, a prominent Indian historian and writer and former Chief Justices of various high courts, former National Secretary-General of the National Human Rights Commission, and former chairperson of the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights, former chief secretaries of the Government of Jammu and Kashmir as members.

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