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Torture of PDP leader Waheed Para by NIA accuse UN officials

The communication to the government of India has coincided with Jammu and Kashmir police filing a chargesheet against the valley leader in another militancy-related case

Sabrangindia 02 Jun 2021

Image Courtesy:telegraphindia.com

Raising serious concerns about violations of international treaty obligations, the UN special Rapporteur and other independent United Nations human rights experts have asked the Indian government to provide details about the continuing detention of a politician, the alleged custodial killing of a shopkeeper and the two-year-old disappearance of a teenager in Kashmir. This communication from five experts, dated March 31, has been recently publicly uploaded on the website of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

“These allegations are part of what appears to be an ongoing pattern of serious violations of human rights by police, army, security agencies and the judiciary in the Jammu and Kashmir region, warrants in our view the most serious attention on the part of the highest authorities,” said the letter to the Indian government.

Predictably, the NIA has denied the allegation of torture on PDP leader Waheed Para. The central agency had earlier said that Para had been arrested on the charge of having links with militants. Para was believed to have been in the good books of the Centre when the BJP was running a coalition government with Mehbooba’s PDP but fell from grace when the alliance unravelled in 2018.

The UN communication has coincided with Jammu and Kashmir police filing a chargesheet against Para on Tuesday in another militancy-related case. On January 9, a judge in an NIA court ruled that the anti-terror law UAPA did not apply in the case. Para was subsequently granted bail by the NIA but hours before his release on January 11, he was arrested and detained by the counter-insurgency wing of the police in a case related to providing financial assistance to a militant group. Para, who heads the PDP’s youth wing, was said to have unbridled access to the Union home ministry, to which the NIA reports, during the PDP-BJP rule.

Para is now in police custody. In their letter to the Union external affairs ministry, the UN officials have written that Para had on July 20 last year engaged with current and future members of the UN Security Council during a virtual meeting and raised alarm over the government’s actions in Jammu and Kashmir and its treatment of Muslim minorities.

“He was held in a dark, underground cell at subzero temperature, was deprived of sleep, kicked, slapped, beaten with rods, stripped naked and hung upside down. His ill-treatment was recorded. Mr Para was examined by a government doctor three times since his arrest last November and three times by a psychiatrist. He requested medication for insomnia and anxiety,” the report said.

It said Para had been subjected to “reprisal” for his engagement with the UN Security Council members and his denunciation of human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir.

The UN officials’ report said Para had received threats following the meeting, “with the NIA indicating that he was inviting trouble by engaging in such events”. “They gave him an ultimatum that if he did not cease speaking out about the government, action would be taken against him,” it said.

Para was among thousands of people arrested in Jammu and Kashmir during the clampdown that followed the scrapping of the erstwhile state’s special status. He had been a bitter critic of the move and continued to oppose the government after his release in 2020. On November 25, he was arrested on terrorism charges by the NIA.

The communication from the UN’s working group on Enforced Disappearances and Arbitrary Detentions and the Special rapporteurs on extra judicial summary or arbitrary executions and the protection of human rights may be read  here (https://spcommreports.ohchr.org/TMResultsBase/DownLoadPublicCommunicationFile?gId=26181)

An NIA spokesperson contacted by media outlets like The Telegraph said the allegations in the report were false. “The fact is that when he was in custody he was taken for medical examinations every second day. The allegations (that he was arrested as a reprisal for speaking to the UN Security Council) is also false,” she said.

The UN report also sought the government’s response on the alleged custodial death of Irfan Ahmad Dar, a shopkeeper from Sopore, last year and the 2019 disappearance while in custody of Naseer Ahmad Wani, a 19-year-old youth from Shopian.

In 2018 as secretary of Jammu and Kashmir’s sports council, Para had organised a huge gathering of sports enthusiasts for then home minister Rajnath Singh in Srinagar, a rare feat for any politician amid relentless stone throwing by locals those days. “For that (channelising the energy of the youth of Jammu and Kashmir in a positive direction), I want to specially congratulate the secretary of the Jammu and Kashmir sports council, Waheed Para. He has organised a wonderful programme here,” Rajnath had told the audience.

The communication had been undersigned by special rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment Nils Melzer, vice-chair of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) Elina Steinerte, chair-rapporteur of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances Tae-Ung Baik, special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Agnes Callamard, and special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism Fionnuala Ní Aoláin.

The UN experts, who received their mandate from UN Human Rights Council, said they had received information related to “allegations of arbitrary detention, extrajudicial killing, enforced disappearance and torture and ill-treatment committed against” related to Waheed Para, Irfan Ahmad Dar and Naseer Ahmad Wani.

According to the information received by the UN experts, Para, the People’s Democratic Party youth wing president, was arrested on November 25, 2020, three days after he filed his nomination to run for district development council elections. Para also had participated in a closed virtual meeting with “current and future members of the UN Security Council” in July 2020, where he had raised concerns about the Indian government’s actions in Jammu and Kashmir, treatment of minorities and border tensions with China.

Following that meeting, Para allegedly received threats from officials of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) that if he didn’t stop speaking against the Indian government, action would be taken against him.

 “Our concern in the case of Mr Waheed Para is heightened by the fact that his arrest and detention appear to be linked to his interaction with UN Security Council members, which would amount to acts of reprisals for such cooperation,” said the UN experts.

Last September, members of the northern Kashmir by Jammu and Kashmir Police Special Operations Group (SOG) raided the house of a 23-year-old shopkeeper, Irfan Ahmad Dar, in Sopore and detained him. The next day, his family learned that Dar had died.

The police claimed that he died while trying to escape from custody. Dar’s family contested that he died in police custody. The family also filed a petition in the high court seeking a copy of the magisterial inquiry report and FIR into the alleged custodial death.Two years ago, 19-year-old Naseer Ahmad Wani’s house was raided by a team of 44 Rashtriya Rifles (44 RR). The complaint was that Wani’s phone was allegedly being used by militant organisations.

He was beaten and taken to the police station. Since then, has family has had no news of him. The army told his family that Dar had been released, but he never returned home.

Among the eight points on which India’s clarifications were sought, the UN experts sought urgent information “on the fate and current whereabouts of Mr Naseer Ahmad Wani”.

They also asked for details of investigations into allegations made about the treatment of the three Kashmiri men. “If no investigation has been initiated, please explain why and how this is compatible with the international human rights obligations of India,” the letter said.

The UN experts also asked for information on the factual basis “justifying the recourse to terrorism related charges levied against Mr Waheed Para, and how this is compatible with the obligation to pursue counter-terrorism obligations consistent with international law as set out inter alia the United Nations Security Resolution 1373”.

They asked for clarification on whether the move was compatible with the “reasonable understanding of the definition of terrorism in international law norms including the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1566 (2004) and the model definition of terrorism provided by the mandate of the Special Rapporteur for the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism”.

In the letter, the UN experts observed that these allegations are part of an “ongoing pattern of serious violations of human rights by police, army, security agencies and the judiciary in the Jammu and Kashmir region, warrants in our view the most serious attention on the part of the highest authorities”.

The UN experts cautioned that they might publicly express their concerns soon, as the public “should be informed about the implications of these allegations on the exercise and enjoyment of their human rights”.

Related:

 

India’s Panicky Response to UN Report on Kashmir: Kavita Krishnan
Canadian legislator honoured for standing up for Kashmir and minorities in India
Whose Kashmir is it anyway?
Kashmir After Abrogation of Article 370: Lies and Propaganda Galore

Torture of PDP leader Waheed Para by NIA accuse UN officials

The communication to the government of India has coincided with Jammu and Kashmir police filing a chargesheet against the valley leader in another militancy-related case

Image Courtesy:telegraphindia.com

Raising serious concerns about violations of international treaty obligations, the UN special Rapporteur and other independent United Nations human rights experts have asked the Indian government to provide details about the continuing detention of a politician, the alleged custodial killing of a shopkeeper and the two-year-old disappearance of a teenager in Kashmir. This communication from five experts, dated March 31, has been recently publicly uploaded on the website of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

“These allegations are part of what appears to be an ongoing pattern of serious violations of human rights by police, army, security agencies and the judiciary in the Jammu and Kashmir region, warrants in our view the most serious attention on the part of the highest authorities,” said the letter to the Indian government.

Predictably, the NIA has denied the allegation of torture on PDP leader Waheed Para. The central agency had earlier said that Para had been arrested on the charge of having links with militants. Para was believed to have been in the good books of the Centre when the BJP was running a coalition government with Mehbooba’s PDP but fell from grace when the alliance unravelled in 2018.

The UN communication has coincided with Jammu and Kashmir police filing a chargesheet against Para on Tuesday in another militancy-related case. On January 9, a judge in an NIA court ruled that the anti-terror law UAPA did not apply in the case. Para was subsequently granted bail by the NIA but hours before his release on January 11, he was arrested and detained by the counter-insurgency wing of the police in a case related to providing financial assistance to a militant group. Para, who heads the PDP’s youth wing, was said to have unbridled access to the Union home ministry, to which the NIA reports, during the PDP-BJP rule.

Para is now in police custody. In their letter to the Union external affairs ministry, the UN officials have written that Para had on July 20 last year engaged with current and future members of the UN Security Council during a virtual meeting and raised alarm over the government’s actions in Jammu and Kashmir and its treatment of Muslim minorities.

“He was held in a dark, underground cell at subzero temperature, was deprived of sleep, kicked, slapped, beaten with rods, stripped naked and hung upside down. His ill-treatment was recorded. Mr Para was examined by a government doctor three times since his arrest last November and three times by a psychiatrist. He requested medication for insomnia and anxiety,” the report said.

It said Para had been subjected to “reprisal” for his engagement with the UN Security Council members and his denunciation of human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir.

The UN officials’ report said Para had received threats following the meeting, “with the NIA indicating that he was inviting trouble by engaging in such events”. “They gave him an ultimatum that if he did not cease speaking out about the government, action would be taken against him,” it said.

Para was among thousands of people arrested in Jammu and Kashmir during the clampdown that followed the scrapping of the erstwhile state’s special status. He had been a bitter critic of the move and continued to oppose the government after his release in 2020. On November 25, he was arrested on terrorism charges by the NIA.

The communication from the UN’s working group on Enforced Disappearances and Arbitrary Detentions and the Special rapporteurs on extra judicial summary or arbitrary executions and the protection of human rights may be read  here (https://spcommreports.ohchr.org/TMResultsBase/DownLoadPublicCommunicationFile?gId=26181)

An NIA spokesperson contacted by media outlets like The Telegraph said the allegations in the report were false. “The fact is that when he was in custody he was taken for medical examinations every second day. The allegations (that he was arrested as a reprisal for speaking to the UN Security Council) is also false,” she said.

The UN report also sought the government’s response on the alleged custodial death of Irfan Ahmad Dar, a shopkeeper from Sopore, last year and the 2019 disappearance while in custody of Naseer Ahmad Wani, a 19-year-old youth from Shopian.

In 2018 as secretary of Jammu and Kashmir’s sports council, Para had organised a huge gathering of sports enthusiasts for then home minister Rajnath Singh in Srinagar, a rare feat for any politician amid relentless stone throwing by locals those days. “For that (channelising the energy of the youth of Jammu and Kashmir in a positive direction), I want to specially congratulate the secretary of the Jammu and Kashmir sports council, Waheed Para. He has organised a wonderful programme here,” Rajnath had told the audience.

The communication had been undersigned by special rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment Nils Melzer, vice-chair of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) Elina Steinerte, chair-rapporteur of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances Tae-Ung Baik, special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Agnes Callamard, and special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism Fionnuala Ní Aoláin.

The UN experts, who received their mandate from UN Human Rights Council, said they had received information related to “allegations of arbitrary detention, extrajudicial killing, enforced disappearance and torture and ill-treatment committed against” related to Waheed Para, Irfan Ahmad Dar and Naseer Ahmad Wani.

According to the information received by the UN experts, Para, the People’s Democratic Party youth wing president, was arrested on November 25, 2020, three days after he filed his nomination to run for district development council elections. Para also had participated in a closed virtual meeting with “current and future members of the UN Security Council” in July 2020, where he had raised concerns about the Indian government’s actions in Jammu and Kashmir, treatment of minorities and border tensions with China.

Following that meeting, Para allegedly received threats from officials of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) that if he didn’t stop speaking against the Indian government, action would be taken against him.

 “Our concern in the case of Mr Waheed Para is heightened by the fact that his arrest and detention appear to be linked to his interaction with UN Security Council members, which would amount to acts of reprisals for such cooperation,” said the UN experts.

Last September, members of the northern Kashmir by Jammu and Kashmir Police Special Operations Group (SOG) raided the house of a 23-year-old shopkeeper, Irfan Ahmad Dar, in Sopore and detained him. The next day, his family learned that Dar had died.

The police claimed that he died while trying to escape from custody. Dar’s family contested that he died in police custody. The family also filed a petition in the high court seeking a copy of the magisterial inquiry report and FIR into the alleged custodial death.Two years ago, 19-year-old Naseer Ahmad Wani’s house was raided by a team of 44 Rashtriya Rifles (44 RR). The complaint was that Wani’s phone was allegedly being used by militant organisations.

He was beaten and taken to the police station. Since then, has family has had no news of him. The army told his family that Dar had been released, but he never returned home.

Among the eight points on which India’s clarifications were sought, the UN experts sought urgent information “on the fate and current whereabouts of Mr Naseer Ahmad Wani”.

They also asked for details of investigations into allegations made about the treatment of the three Kashmiri men. “If no investigation has been initiated, please explain why and how this is compatible with the international human rights obligations of India,” the letter said.

The UN experts also asked for information on the factual basis “justifying the recourse to terrorism related charges levied against Mr Waheed Para, and how this is compatible with the obligation to pursue counter-terrorism obligations consistent with international law as set out inter alia the United Nations Security Resolution 1373”.

They asked for clarification on whether the move was compatible with the “reasonable understanding of the definition of terrorism in international law norms including the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1566 (2004) and the model definition of terrorism provided by the mandate of the Special Rapporteur for the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism”.

In the letter, the UN experts observed that these allegations are part of an “ongoing pattern of serious violations of human rights by police, army, security agencies and the judiciary in the Jammu and Kashmir region, warrants in our view the most serious attention on the part of the highest authorities”.

The UN experts cautioned that they might publicly express their concerns soon, as the public “should be informed about the implications of these allegations on the exercise and enjoyment of their human rights”.

Related:

 

India’s Panicky Response to UN Report on Kashmir: Kavita Krishnan
Canadian legislator honoured for standing up for Kashmir and minorities in India
Whose Kashmir is it anyway?
Kashmir After Abrogation of Article 370: Lies and Propaganda Galore

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