India detains leading Kashmiri human rights activist

September 16, 2016 10:46 AM EDT

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SRINAGAR, India (Reuters) - India has detained a leading Kashmiri human rights activist who has spoken out against the use of force in an ongoing security crackdown, a day after it stopped him from boarding a flight to attend a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva.

Khurram Parvez, 39, was detained at his home in Srinagar on Thursday night and is being held at a local police station under public order offences, his lawyer and the head of his human rights group said on Friday.

"He has been detained without formal arrest or notification," said Parvez Imroz, president of the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Societies (JKCCS), a prominent human rights group.

Parvez is the coordinator of the JKCCS, which has published research into the role of Indian security forces in containing a separatist insurgency in India's northernmost state that first flared a quarter of a century ago.

Imroz said that Parvez had not been given any documentation or reason for his detention.

Parvez's lawyer, Mir Hafizullah, told Reuters that he had been placed in preventive detention under Sections 107 and 151 of India's Code of Criminal Procedure that relate to public order offences.

Police in Jammu and Kashmir state declined to comment.

At least 78 civilians have been killed and thousands wounded in more than two months of clashes between protesters and Indian security forces in Kashmir that began after the killing of a well-known separatist militant in a joint army and police operation on July 8.

The unrest is the worst in the Muslim-majority region for six years, and critics have accused Indian forces of heavy-handedness as they struggle to contain the protests.

Amnesty International, the human rights group, called for the immediate release of Parvez. It said he was stopped at Delhi's airport on Sept. 14 and prevented from traveling to Geneva, before he returned to Srinagar.

"Preventing a well-known activist from traveling abroad for human rights advocacy, and then locking him up on spurious grounds, is a shameful attempt to suppress a peaceful dissenting voice from Kashmir," Aakar Patel, Executive Director at Amnesty International India, said in a statement.

The JKCCS had been working on human rights issues including mass graves, torture and extrajudicial executions, Patel said.

India and Pakistan have fought two wars over Kashmir since independence in 1947. Both claim the territory in full but rule it in part.

The U.N.'s top human rights official on Tuesday called for an international mission to be given free and complete access to both Indian and Pakistan-administered Kashmir to assess claims made by both sides about the recent unrest.

(Reporting by Douglas Busvine and Fayaz Bukhari and Tommy Wilkes; Editing by Dominic Evans)



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