Wednesday, December 6, 2023

NIA raid exposes State’s desperation to deter APDP: Parveena Ahangar

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Parveena Ahangar

On Wednesday from morning 8:30 to evening 3:30, a team of officers from the National Investigation Agency(NIA), Crime Investigation Department (CB-CID) and Jammu and Kashmir Police, accompanied by Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) officers conducted a raid in the office of Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) in Hyderpora, Srinagar.

According to NIA, the raid was in connection with a terror funding inquiry.

APDP’s office bearers and prominent activists Parveena Ahangar and Saima were taken from home to the APDP office by the team and security personnel. Parveena Ahangar, Sabia and Saima were present in the office during the raid.

The raid team seized several documents and some electronic devices. Praveena Ahanagar’s mobile phones were also seized.

Parveena started the APDP in 1994 to provide support and mobilize family members of missing persons due to enforced disappearances and to put pressure on India’s government to investigate the estimated 8-10,000 cases of involuntary disappearances in Kashmir.

“APDP neither receives foriegn funding, nor engages in any illegal activities. The raid conducted by the NIA has no basis, and only exposes the State’s desperation to deter APDP from pursuing justice for hundreds of victims of human rights violations committed by State actors in Kashmir,” Parveena responded to the raid.

According to Parveena, APDP has not received any funds from foriegn organisations. Section 2(j)(ii) of the FCR Act defines “foriegn source” to exclude the United Nations. Funds received through the UN grant to APDP is hence not “foriegn funding”.

In a press statement released by Parveena hours after the raid, she raised serious concern over misuse of sensitive information, including names and addresses of victims present in documents seized from APDP and apprehension of reprisal against victims of human rights violations.

Parveena said: “Through the years APDP has documented and recorded testimonies of victims and victim- families who have been subjected to human rights violations by security forces in Kashmir. More than 1000 testimonies of enforced disappearances, about 400 testimonies of pellet gun injuries, about 300-400 testimonies of arbitrary detention and torture and some cases of sexual violence have been documented by APDP and have been submitted to various United Nations special procedures, and Human Rights Organisations. As recently as September 2020, almost 40 testimonies of arbitrary detention and torture that took place in 2019-2020 were submitted to the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and the Special Rapporteur on Torture. The documents and devices seized by the NIA team contain details of the names, identities and incidents of human rights abuses by security personnel. There is a grave apprehension that the same may be accessed by other agencies, and/or lead to adverse consequences and reprisal against victims and families who have testified and are pursuing justice.”

She further said her organisation remains resolute to carry on its work with victims of human rights abuses in Kashmir.

Other raids

National Investigation Agency (NIA) on the same day carried out raids at 10 places in Srinagar and the investigation agency claimed raids were in connection with a terror funding probe.

These entities were receiving money from undisclosed donors which was then being used to fund terror activities, according to an NIA release.

The raided places include the residence and offices of prominent rights activist and Co-ordinator of Jammu &Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, Khurram Parvez, Parvez Ahmad Matta, Swati Sheshadri and Agence France-Presse’s Kashmir correspondent Parvaiz Bukhari, NGO Athrout, and the Greater Kailash Trust.

Mehbooba Mufti, the chief of the Jammu and Kashmir People’s Democratic Party and former CM called the action a vicious crackdown on dissent.

“Sadly, NIA has become BJPs pet agency to intimidate & browbeat those who refuse to fall in line,” she said.

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