"It gives us a lot of happiness that there are people who recognise his work, and also stand in solidarity with us," said a family member of jailed Jammu and Kashmir human rights activist Khurram Parvez, who was recently included in Time magazine’s list of 100 most influential people of 2022.
The family member, on the condition of anonymity, told The Quint that the honour highlighted Parvez's body of work.
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 2021.
He was booked under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) on the charges of funding terror activities.
'Parvez Did Not React Much to the News'
On being asked whether Parvez knew about his inclusion in the list, his relative said that he was aware of it. "Parvez gets five minutes to speak to his family over the phone everyday; so we told him then. Also, newspapers are available inside the prison."
However, Parvez did not react much to the news, the family member said, adding that he was not expecting the honour at this juncture.
The place that he is in and his circumstances and the environment make it difficult to show one’s excitement over such a matter, Parvez's relative said, adding that it would have been a different experience if he had got this honour when he was "breathing the fresh air."
"But if you are getting such recognition in a jail, you have people around you to whom you can’t even reveal what it is."
Parvez, one of the most resounding and internationally recognised voices of the Kashmir Valley, has been a vocal critic of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), as well as of the ruling establishments in the erstwhile state over the past few years.
The human rights advocate was previously arrested in 2016 under Sections 107 (security for keeping the peace) and 151 (design to commit any cognizable offence) of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
Upon his release, he was rearrested by the authorities under stringent Public Safety Act (PSA) that allows detention of a person without trial for up to a year.
Hope Global Events Will Expedite His Release, Pervez's Relative Says
When asked whether such a global honour would help expedite Parvez's release from prison, the relative said, "I hope so, but not only because of this. We have full faith in the judiciary."
His relative added that while the family had pinned their hopes on what was going on around the world, they believed that the judiciary would do the right thing. "But I think pressure needs to be built," the family member added.
This is not the first time that Parvez's human rights work has been recognised.
A former programme coordinator of the Jammu & Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), Parvez is 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 the United Nations urging the Indian government to release him.
"He’s not a terrorist, he’s a Human Rights Defender," UN Special Rapporteur Mary Lawlor had tweeted after his arrest last year.
Parvez's Arrest Affecting His Children's Psyche
Parvez's relative further said that his work had been recognised 5-10 years ago as well, adding that he was already a public figure.
Speaking on troubles the family had faced since his incarceration, his relative said that Parvez's children, a son aged 12 and a four-year-old daughter, miss and need him constantly.
"They are very young, but it is getting to their psyche regarding what is going on," the family member said.
"They have seen their father doing good work. So, they think that if one does good work, what does it achieve? (if one has to be in prison because of it)."
What Does Parvez's Profile in Time Say?
Writing Parvez’s profile for Time, journalist Rana Ayyub said that his voice "had to be silenced" as it resounded around the globe for his fight against human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir.
"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," Ayyub says.
Referring to Parvez as a "modern-day David," Ayyub said that Parvez gave a voice to families that lost their children to enforced disappearances.
"Khurram is the story and the storyteller of the insurgency and the betrayal of the people of Kashmir," she added.
(With inputs from Time.)