SRINAGAR, India — Police have arrested a prominent rights activist in Indian-controlled Kashmir a day after he was barred from leaving India to travel to Geneva to participate in a session of the United Nations’ Human Rights Council, police and family members said Friday.
Police picked up Khurram Parvez from his home in the region’s main city Srinagar late Thursday night.
A police officer, speaking on condition of anonymity because of department policy, said Parvez was arrested to prevent him from “causing a breach of peace.” He did not elaborate.
On Wednesday, immigration officials at New Delhi’s international airport barred Parvez from boarding a plane to Geneva, even though he had a valid visa and letter of invitation from the U.N. body.
His arrest comes as the troubled Himalayan region has been hit by some of the most serious anti-India protests in recent years.
Triggered by the killing of a popular rebel leader two months ago, the protests have left more than 80 people killed and thousands wounded, mostly by government forces firing bullets and shotgun pellets to quell the demonstrations.
Parvez and his organization, the Coalition of Civil Society, were the first to report and draw attention to thousands of mass graves in remote parts of Kashmir and to demand that the government investigate them to make clear who the dead were and how they were killed.
His organization also has written scathing reports about brutality involving some of the hundreds of thousands of Indian troops in the region and highlighted widespread powers granted to troops which led to a culture of impunity and widespread rights abuses.
Anti-Indian protests continued Friday as the region remained under strict curfew to prevent widespread demonstrations as people gathered for Friday Muslim prayers.
Prayers were barred at the major mosques in the region but people were allowed to gather in smaller local mosques.
Hundreds of protesters chanted anti-India slogans in several places across the region.
Predominantly Muslim Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan. Most people in the Indian-controlled portion favor independence or a merger with Pakistan.