SRINAGAR, India (AP) — Authorities in Indian-controlled Kashmir released a prominent human rights activist from prison Wednesday after a court in the disputed region ruled that his detention under a controversial security law was illegal.
Police freed Khurram Parvez after the court ordered his release five days earlier.
Indian authorities charged Parvez in September under the Public Safety Act, which allows detentions for up to two years without trial.
The court said Parvez had been imprisoned arbitrarily and that authorities had abused their power by ordering his detention.
International human rights groups, academics, the U.N. Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances and several U.N. special rapporteurs had campaigned for his release.
Parvez is the program coordinator and spokesman of a Kashmiri rights group, the Jammu-Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society. It expressed "overwhelming gratitude to the local and international solidarity campaign for his release that was crucial in securing his freedom."
"The struggle for the release of Khurram Parvez is a part of the larger struggle against unlawful detentions, state impunity and the use of repressive laws such as PSA," the group said in a statement. It said it "reiterates its commitment to the struggle for truth, justice and the rights of all people" in the region.
Shortly before Parvez's arrest, immigration officials at New Delhi's international airport had barred him from boarding a plane to Geneva without offering any official explanation, although he had a valid visa and a letter of invitation to participate in a session of the U.N. Human Rights Council.
Police arrested him after he returned home to Kashmir's main city of Srinagar, saying it was to prevent him from "causing a breach of peace." A local court then ordered his release, but police rearrested him at the prison gate and charged him under the Public Safety Act.
Parvez, 39, and his rights group were the first to publicize thousands of unmarked graves in remote parts of Kashmir and to demand that the Indian government investigate them to determine who the dead were and how they were killed.
His organization also has written scathing reports about brutality by some of the hundreds of thousands of Indian troops in the region and highlighted the widespread powers granted to them, which led to a culture of impunity and rights abuses.
Parvez also heads a Philippine-based rights group, the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances.
His imprisonment came during the largest protests against Indian rule in Kashmir in recent years, sparked by the July 8 killing of a popular rebel commander by Indian soldiers.
Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan but claimed by both. Most people in the Indian-controlled portion favor independence or a merger with Pakistan.
A militant uprising and subsequent Indian military crackdown since 1989 have killed at least 70,000 people.
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