‘Baseless, unfounded’: India on UN body statement on Khurram Parvez’s arrest

A day after the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) expressed concern over activist Khurram Parvez being held on charges of terrorism, the Indian government on Thursday called the statement “baseless and unfounded” and said that the “arrest and subsequent detention” was done “entirely as per provisions of law”.

“We have seen the statement made by the Spokesperson of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on specific incidents in Jammu and Kashmir. The statement makes baseless and unfounded allegations against law enforcement authorities and security forces of India,” the official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, Arindam Bagchi, said in a statement.

He added, “It also betrays a complete lack of understanding on the part of the OHCHR of the security challenges faced by India from cross-border terrorism and its impact on the most fundamental human right ‘the Right to Life’ of our citizens including in Jammu and Kashmir.”

A week after the National Investigation Agency arrested Parvez, OHCHR, on Wednesday, had expressed concern over the detention and urged the government to “fully safeguard” his rights. The OHCHR had also expressed concern over “crackdown on civil society actors”, use of “sweeping counter-terrorism measures”, and killings of civilians.

“We are deeply concerned at the arrest of Kashmiri human rights defender Khurram Parvez under Indian counter-terrorism legislation, the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA),” OHCHR spokesperson Rupert Colville had said in a statement. “In view of this context of previous reprisal for legitimate conduct, we call on the Indian authorities to fully safeguard his right to freedom of expression, association and personal liberty and to take the precautionary step of releasing him”, the statement added.

Bagchi, while replying to queries regarding the statement, said, “Referring to proscribed terrorist organisations as ‘armed groups’ demonstrates a clear bias on the part of OHCHR. As a democratic country, with an abiding commitment to promote and protect the human rights of its citizens, India takes all necessary steps to counter cross border terrorism.”

He added, “National security legislations, like the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, (UAPA) were enacted by the Parliament to protect the sovereignty of India and ensure security of its citizens. The arrest and subsequent detention of the individual referred to in the statement was done entirely as per provisions of law.”

Bagchi further informed that “authorities in India act against violations of law and not against legitimate exercise of rights and that all such actions are strictly in accordance with the law”.

“We urge the OHCHR to develop a better understanding of the negative impact of terrorism on human rights,” he stated.

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