India using UAPA terror law against peaceful citizens: AJK president

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ISLAMABAD:     (Parliament Times)    The Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) President Sardar Masood Khan welcoming the letter of the European Parliament’s global human rights subcommittee to the Indian government about massive human rights violations described the move as a charge sheet against the Indian Home Minister Amit Shah.

“The Indian government is brazenly using anti-terrorism law, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) to curb the civil liberties and intimidate the human rights defenders within India and in Occupied Jammu and Kashmir,” he added.

Commenting on the letter written by the sub committee’s chairperson Maria Arena to the Indian home minister, he said that the arrest of two human rights activists Gautam Navlakha and Anand Teltumbde, under the UAPA, is proof that the Modi regime considers human rights activists as terrorists.

He said that this act of the Indian government is itself state terrorism and negates the human rights guaranteed under the constitution of India. “It has been a routine of successive Indian governments to violate human rights particularly in occupied Kashmir and covered their crimes under the garb of so-called democracy and secularism, but now India’s ugly face stand exposed, he added.

Maria Arena, chairwoman of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights had expressed serious concerns over violations of human rights in India, and said that it is alarming and condemnable that those raising their voice for the rights of the most marginalized communities, and protesting against the new citizenship laws of India, are being portrayed as terrorists.

“It is particularly alarming to note that human rights defenders cannot conduct advocacy activities, notably in favour of India’s poorest and most marginalized communities, without becoming subject to intimidation and harassment, but equally worrying is the fact that terrorism charges, including under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), are used to silence them,” Maria stated in her letter.

Describing the UAPA law in conflict with the fundamental human rights, she said that the law was being used against the human rights activists, and also being invoked against those who are holding a peaceful protest against the Indian citizenship law or are criticizing policies and actions of the Indian government.

Maria Arena said that in recent days, the human rights activists Safoora Zardar, Gulfishan Fatima, Khalid Saifi, Miran Haider, Shifaur Rehman, Dr Kafeel Khan, Asif Iqbal and Sharjeel Imam have also been arrested under the UAPA law.

The EP body while expressing concern over the plight of prisoners of conscience languishing in prisons amidst novel coronavirus, urged the Indian government to immediately release them as part of overall efforts to contain the outbreak.

Meanwhile, the AJK president while strongly condemning the Indian mortar and heavy weapons shelling in Mohra, Dharoti, and Nara sub-sectors of the Line of Control in Kotli district has described it an intentional attempt of India to divert the attention of the international community from the situation of occupied Jammu and Kashmir as well as the internal situation of India itself. “The international community including the United Nations and the human rights organizations should take notice of the unprovoked in shelling which causes loss of life and property to the defenseless civilian population of Azad Kashmir,” he added.