Conflicts & War

Rights defender’s house raided in Indian Kashmir

Srinagar, India, Aug 1 (EFE).- Dozens of plainclothes officers of India’s counter-terror agency Tuesday searched several places in the troubled Kashmir Valley, including the house of a known rights activist.

A senior civil official told EFE that the raids were conducted as part of an investigation into a terror funding case registered in 2020 against the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Societies (JKCSS).

JKCCS is a rights group that has been active in India-administered Kashmir for decades.

Known widely for documenting rights violations by government forces and militants in the troubled region, JKCCS has come under the scanner of counter-terror agencies for a long.

However, it has remained dormant for several years now.

Its founder Pervez Imroz, a known rights lawyer, has often suffered police raids in the past.

The official said his house was among the places raided by the sleuths of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Tuesday.

A police official told EFE that NIA officers seized laptops and cell phones from his house for examinations.

Rights watchdogs have expressed concerns over the alleged harassment of activists and journalists in Indian Kashmir.

“India’s heavy-handed tactics to harass and intimidate journalists and human rights defenders reflects poorly on its role as a member of the UN Human Rights Council and should concern the international community,” the India chapter of Amnesty International wrote on messaging platform X, previously Twitter.

The group called on Indian authorities “to end the weaponization of central investigation agencies against the civil society and pledge to protect and promote human rights” ahead of the September G20 summit in Delhi “when the world’s attention will be on India.”

The global rights group said the “crackdown on renowned human rights activists in Jammu and Kashmir such as Parvez Imroz” was being conducted “under the guise of combating terrorist financing.”

The counter-terror agency alleges that nonprofits collect funds domestically and abroad for charity to finance terror activities.

The agency says the rights groups have developed links with banned militant organizations like Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Hizbul Mujahideen.

JKCCS co-coordinator and known rights activist Khurram Parvez has been in Delhi’s Tihar Jail since November 2021.

The authorities have accused Khurram of “criminal conspiracy,” “waging, or attempting to wage war, against the government of India,” and “raising funds for terror activities”.

In March of this year, Kashmir-based journalist Irfan Mehraj was arrested by the NIA in the same case.

Irfan worked as a researcher with the JKCCS until March 2022.

Critics accuse India of violating rights and suppressing press freedom in the Muslim-majority region of Kashmir.

The Kashmir Valley has battled decades of armed rebellion against Indian rule for complete independence of the Himalayan region or its merger with neighboring Pakistan.

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