Jammu and Kashmir activist Khurram Parvez, who is currently in jail, is among the few prominent Indian names to feature in TIME’s list of 100 most influential people of 2022 which was released by the magazine on Monday, 23 May. Indian billionaire Gautam Adani and lawyer Karuna Nundy have also been featured in the list.
Parvez, who serves as the chairperson of the Philippines-based Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD), was arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in November last year.
He was booked under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for funding terror activities.
Parvez, one of the most resounding voices of the Valley, has been a vocal critic of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, as well as of the prevailing regime in the Union territory in the past few decades.
The human rights advocate was previously arrested under another draconian law in 2016.
What Does Khurram Parvez's Profile on Time Say?
Writing Parvez’s profile for TIME, journalist Rana Ayyub said that Parvez’s voice ‘had to be silenced’ as his voice resounded around the globe for his fight against human rights violations in the Jammu and Kashmir region.
She said, “The attacks against him speak volumes of the truth he represents at a time when the world’s largest democracy is being called out for its persecution of the more than 200 million Indian Muslims.”
Referring to Parvez as ‘modern-day David’, Ayyub said that Parvez gave a voice to families that lost their children to enforced disappearances, allegedly by the Indian state.
“Khurram is the story and the storyteller of the insurgency and the betrayal of the people of Kashmir,” she added.
More About Parvez
Parvez is the former programme coordinator of the Jammu & Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) and the recipient of the Reebok Human Rights Award, which recognises activists “under the age of 30 who fought for human rights through non-violent means".
The news of his arrest had prompted a global reaction, with United Nations special mandate holders weighing in with sharp words.
"He’s not a terrorist, he’s a Human Rights Defender," tweeted United Nations Special Rapporteur Mary Lawlor on Monday, 22 November.
"I’m hearing disturbing reports that Khurram Parvez was arrested today in Kashmir & is at risk of being charged by authorities in India with terrorism-related crimes ... He’s not a terrorist, he’s a Human Rights Defender.”Mary Lawlor, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders
David Kaye, a former UN Special Rapporteur for freedom of expression, had also tweeted, “If, as reported, Khurram Parvez has been arrested by India's ‘counter-terrorism’ NIA, it's yet another extraordinary abuse in Kashmir.”
Parvez Had Spent 76 Days in Prison Earlier
Parvez was previously arrested in 2016 as well when Kashmir was reeling under civil unrest sparked by the killing of militant commander Burhan Wani. On 14 September 2016, Parvez was stopped by immigration authorities at the Indira Gandhi International Airport from boarding a flight to Geneva, where he was scheduled to attend a UNHRC session.
He was imprisoned for four days at a sub-jail in Kupwara under Sections 107 (security for keeping the peace) and 151 (design to commit any cognizable offence) of the CrPC, and upon his release, he was re-arrested by the authorities, this time under the Public Safety Act, a stringent preventive detention law.
He was later relocated to the Kot Bhalwal jail in Jammu.
After serving 76 days in prison, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court quashed his detention under PSA.
Parvez's interest in forced disappearances dates back to his student days.
In 1996, as a student at the Kashmir University, Parvez had started a helpline which provided peer counselling and guidance to students affected by conflict in the Valley, as per a JKCCS document.
By 1999, he was actively engaged in the activities of the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons, a Srinagar-based group working on issues of enforced disappearances.
(With inputs from TIME.)