United Nations urges India to stop crackdown on Kashmiri activists
The United Nations has urged India to immediately halt its abuses against Kashmiri human rights activists and Prisoners of Conscience Khurram Parvez and Irfan Mehraj, calling for them to be released and investigations against them to be closed.
“Indian authorities appear to be intensifying the long-standing repression of Kashmiri civil society,” the independent UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Mary Lawlor, said.
Her appeal follows the latest arrest of prominent rights defender Khurram Parvez, who has been in detention for more than a year on false charges of terrorism.
Irfan Mehraj, a Kashmiri journalist and human rights activist, was arrested as part of the same case under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
Lawlor stated that UN human rights experts have repeatedly highlighted grave concerns regarding the UAPA, which allows the designation of any individual as a “terrorist,” bypassing the requirement to establish membership of, or association with, banned groups.
She said the UAPA is applied as a means of coercion against civil society, the media, and human rights defenders in Jammu and Kashmir.
Muslim praying on private property stopped by Hindu militants, fined heavily
Members of the Hindu militant outfit Bajrang Dal stopped Muslims from praying inside the private property of a Muslim man in Hindu supremacist Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled Uttar Pradesh state.
Hindu militant leader Rohan Saxena along with a group of Hindu men barged into the warehouse of a Muslim man, Zakir Hussain, and stopped the Muslims there from praying Taraweeh, a congregational prayer that is held during Ramadan nights.
Rather than punishing the militants for invading a Muslim’s private gathering, the local administration has imposed an unjust and heavy fine of $6,300 each on 10 of the worshippers.
In August last year, 26 Muslims were booked for praying at the homes of two Muslim men in Uttar Pradesh state, but the charges were later dropped. Police withdrew the complaint after the video provided by the complainant, a Hindu militant group member, was “fudged.”
Hindu rapist-murderer shares stage with BJP lawmakers in government event
At a recent government event, one of the 11 rapist murderers convicted for the gang-rape of a Muslim woman and murder of her family during the 2002 Gujarat state pogroms, shared stage with lawmakers from the Hindu supremacist BJP during the inauguration of a water supply project in Gujarat state.
The convict, Shailesh Bhatt, appeared alongside BJP lawmakers Jasvantsinh Bhabhor and his brother Shailesh Bhabhor.
Speaking on the issue, opposition leader Manish Tewari said, “The fact that an elected representative decides to share the stage with someone who has been convicted of such a heinous crime is something that is reprehensible and should be condemned in the strongest possible way.”
Bhatt had been sentenced to life imprisonment along with the 11 others but walked free after serving only 15 years in prison. Despite the brutality of the crime, they were granted remission from the state government upon direction from the Supreme Court.