London, December 22 (KMS): British Member of Parliament, Debbie Abrahams, the chair of All Parties Parliamentary Group on Kashmir (APPG) in a letter to Indian High Commissioner Gaitri Issar Kumar on behalf of all political parties and both Houses of Parliament, asked her for an update on the plight of Kashmiri human rights defender, Khurram Parvez, and India’s response on establishing an independent and transparent inquiry into the killings of civilians by Indian forces in November’s fake encounter in Hyderpora, Srinagar.
Debbie Abrahams, who is Labour MP for Oldham East & Saddleworth, informed the Indian High Commissioner that Khaurram Parvez’s arrest took place after the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, which he coordinates, criticised the Indian occupation forces for killing civilians during a controversial shootout in Srinagar.
“As you know his arrest has raised concerns not just in the United Kingdom, but in the United Nations, by Mary Lawlor, the UN’s special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, who made clear that Mr Parvez is not a terrorist but a human rights defender.”
The letter went on to add, “The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has also issued a statement expressing their deep concern on the arrest of Mr Parvez. We understand that in addition to Mr Parvez, over the last 2 years nearly 2,500 Kashmiris have been detained under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, which allows detention without charge for months.”
There are also alarming reports regarding recent so-called ‘fake encounters, the Debbie Abrahams’ letter adds, where civilians were killed by Indian forces after being branded as militants.
“The latest of these was a reported ‘shootout’ in a shopping complex in Srinagar. Indian police initially described the incident, which took place last month, as a counter-insurgency operation in which two militants and their associates had been killed in this gunfire. However, the families of three of the men that died have accused Indian forces of killing civilians and using them as human shields,” the letter said.
Debbie Abrahams deplored that the Indian authorities refused to initially hand over the bodies to the families and buried them in a graveyard 80 kilometer away. “What is the justification for this?” she asked.
The British MP sais, this incident follows Indian forces claiming they had killed three “unidentified hardcore terrorists in a gunfight in Amshipora village of Kashmir’s Shopian district last July 2020, only to have the families of these young men strongly dispute that this is the case.”
The letter quoted Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director of Human Rights Watch, to have called on the Indian authorities to have a transparent, credible and independent investigation into the Srinagar shopping complex incident.
“We understand that Magisterial Inquiries are normally required in these circumstances, but given 108 magisterial probes have been ordered in Kashmir in the aftermath of violent incidents since 2008, and that none of the reports from these have been made public, nor has a single person been convicted, there is not much trust in the process,” the letter said that as human rights advocates, “we support Human Rights Watch’s request and look forward to your favourable response to this request.”
At the end, the letter asked for India’s response concerning the welfare of Khurram Parvez and on establishing an independent and transparent inquiry into the killings of civilians by Indian forces at Hyderpora in Srinagar in November.
The letter was signed by MP Apsana Begum, MP Paul Blomfield, MP Paul Bristow, MP Rt Hon Liam Byrne, MP Stella Creasy, MP Judith Cummins, MP James Daly, MP Andrew Gwynne, MP Kate Hollern, MP Imran Hussain, Lord Qurban Hussain, MP Rupa Huq, Baroness Meral Hussein-Ece OBE, MP Kim Johnson, MP Rt Hon Tony Lloyd, Lord Wajid Khan, MP Kim Leadbeater, MP Khalid Mahmood, MP Layla Moran, Lord Purvis of Tweed, MP Yasmin Qureshi, MP Naz Shah, Baroness Sheehan, MP Chris Stephens, MP Zarah Sultana, Baroness Thornhill MBE, MP Nadia Whittome and MP Mohammad Yasin.