In July 2013, the Indian government handed down the dreaded Section 66A (b) of the Information Technology Act to Khurram Parvez of Civil Rights Organisations. He had been photographing the human rights violations against innocent civilians in Indian occupied Kashmir.
Once he was arrested under this extremely draconian article, he served three months in a Mumbai jail before being released on bail. He lost work as a result of his arrest and he had to move back to his home state to work towards a better future.
In October 2017, Parvez was again detained for another three months, leading many to question whether his detention was in line with the criteria of Section 66A (b).
On 30th October, Parvez was arrested by the police and sent to a local jail after being arrested in connection with a case in Ramban, Jammu and Kashmir.
The Indian government filed a complaint under IPC Section 147, 149 and IPC Section 66A before the Chaudhary Rajesh Kumar police station against Parvez as he had been alleged to be creating disturbances in the area.
The action was allegedly taken as Parvez was directing people to register complaints against security forces for the beating of a college student in Ramban.
The 24-year-old activist had been playing a pivotal role in raising the voice of the oppressed by documenting human rights violations in the Indian occupied Kashmir and organising rallies and protests against this unfair policy of brutal repression.
Despite having made several appeals to the authorities, Parvez has not been released and remains in prison.
It may also be noted that Khalil Rajeev, a prominent Kashmiri rights activist, was recently acquitted by the high court. This has raised questions on the Indian government’s interpretation of the legal document pertaining to section 66A of the Indian Information Technology Act.
Kashmiri citizens are waiting for Parvez’s release so that they too could speak out about their humiliation under Indian rule.
We are in solidarity with Parvez and other members of the Kashmiri community and we urge the government of India to grant him his civil rights and release him from prison so that he can continue to fight for the rights of the oppressed communities in Kashmir.
We urge all victims of human rights violations to pursue their legal and human rights claims in line with the global Standard on Access to Justice – a rigorous framework that ensures access to justice and safety.
Maha Landabari is Lecturer in the Department of Human Rights at the University of Delhi.