India: Simultaneous NIA raids on human rights defenders’ home, NGOs and newspaper’s offices

28/10/2020
Urgent Appeal

IND 007 / 1020 / OBS 118
Raids / Harassment
India
October 28, 2020

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH, requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in India.

Brief description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about simultaneous raids conducted by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on the houses and offices of several human rights defenders, non-governmental organisations and newspaper in Srinagar and Bandipora, in Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory.

According to the information received, on October 28, 2020, officials from the NIA, assisted by local police and central reserve police forces officials, conducted nine simultaneous raids in Srinagar and another one in Bandipora, includingon: the house of Ms. Parveena Ahanger, Chairperson of the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP), and the office of APDP; the premises of the NGO Athrout, which provides education and medical aid to vulnerable communities; and the daily newspaper Greater Kashmir; and the houses of Mr. Khurram Parvez, Coordinator of the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), JKCCS members Parvez Ahmad Bukhari and Parvez Ahmad Matta. The NIA also conducted a raid on the home of JKCCS member Swati Sheshadri in Bengaluru, Karnataka State. A few documents and electronic devices were reportedly seized by the NIA.

The NIA reportedly stated that the raids were conducted in connection with an investigation into the fundraising of “so-called NGOs and trusts” in India and abroad to carry out “secessionist and terrorist activities” in Jammu and Kashmir, pursuant to Articles 120B, 124A of the Indian Penal Code and Sections 17, 18, 22A, 22C, 38, 39, and 40 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

The Observatory expresses its deepest concern about these new acts of harassment, which seem to be only aimed at punishing and intimidating the above-mentioned defenders, NGOs and newspaper for their legitimate human rights activities.

The Observatory further recalls that these acts of reprisals take place in a context of an increased crackdown on civil society by the Indian government, notably by bringing politically motivated criminal cases against human rights defenders, student activists, journalists, and others critical voices of the government under sedition, terrorism, and other repressive legal provisions, with the aim to shut down critical voices in the country[1].

The Observatory urges the authorities of India to immediately put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against all human rights defenders in the country, and ensure that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals in all circumstances.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities in India, urging them to:

i. Guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical integrity and psychological well-being of allhuman rights defenders in India;

ii. Put an end to all acts of harassment - including at the judicial level - against all above-mentioned human rights defenders in India, and ensure that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals in all circumstances;

iii. Conform to the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted on December 9, 1998 by the United Nations General Assembly, in particular its Articles 1 and 12.2.;

iv. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights instruments ratified by India.

Addresses:

· Mr. Narendra Damodardas Modi, Prime Minister of India, E-mail: pmosb@pmo.nic.in , Twitter: @narendramodi
· Mr. Amit Shah, Union Minister of Home Affairs of India, Email: dirfcra-mha@gov.in
· Mr. Ajay Kumar Bhalla, Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs of India, Email: hshso@nic.in
· Mr. Sharad Arvind Bobde, Chief Justice of India, Supreme Court of India, Email: supremecourt@nic.in
· Mr. H.L. Dattu, Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission of India, Email: chairnhrc@nic.in, Twitter: @India_NHRC
· Mr. C. S. Mawri, Focal Point on Human Rights Defenders, National Human Rights Commission of India, Email: hrd-nhrc@nic.in
· H.E. Mr. Rajiv Kumar Chander, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Email: mission.india@ties.itu.int

Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of India located in your country.

***
Geneva-Paris, October 28, 2020

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH. The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. OMCT and FIDH are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.


[1] See for instance Joint Statement, India: Amnesty International Forced to Halt Work, September 30, 2020 as well as India: Joint Letter ahead of the 15th EU-India Summit of 15 July 2020, June 29, 2020.

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