The arrest of a prominent activist on terror funding charges in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) has received criticism from human rights groups as well as the United Nations.
Earlier on Monday, Khurram Parvez was arrested by India’s federal National Investigation Agency (NIA), an Indian official briefed on the situation told Reuters.
The official added that Parvez’s residence and office were searched and a mobile phone, laptop, and books were seized.
A spokesperson of the NIA confirmed Parvez’s arrest on Tuesday.
Parvez is being held under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, which permits detention of up to six months without trial.
Mary Lawlor, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, described Parvez’s arrest as “disturbing”.
She took to Twitter and wrote, “He’s not a terrorist, he’s a human rights defender”.
Parvez, one of IIOJK’s best-known activists, is serving as the head of the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, a group of rights organizations working in the region.
Earlier in 2016, he was arrested and detained on similar charges after being stopped from boarding a flight to attend a UN human rights forum in Geneva. Later he was released without being convicted of any crime.
The Muslim-majority Kashmir region has for decades been the cause of tensions between nuclear-armed neighbors India and Pakistan.
Both countries claim the Himalayan territory in full but rule it in part, and have fought two wars against each other over it.
India has been facing allegations of rights abuses in its portion of the territory, but New Delhi denies the charges. It exercises tight controls over access to Kashmir for foreign observers, including the UN.