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Kashmiri Politician Denied Right to Travel by India

On 14th June, a special Indian court dismissed an application submitted by People Democratic Party’s (PDP) youth leader, Waheed-ur-Rehman Parra, in which he sought permission to travel to the United States of America (USA) to pursue a 3-month Peace Fellowship Programme at Yale University.

Parra was previously detained for a prolonged period, under the lawless Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, for his alleged relationship with Kashmiri pro-freedom movement activists. Parra denied these allegations, and considered his detention to be a case of political victimization. Parra is a close aide of former Kashmir Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti.

He was released from detention, however, his passport was withheld by India. After his selection for the fellowship at Yale, he had requested for the return of the passport so that he may travel. Turning down a plea for the release of his passport, which was seized on the order of J&K high court by the Indian National Investigation Agency (NIA) in May last year, the court upheld the prosecution’s argument that Parra could seek “political asylum” in the US if he was permitted to travel and “indulge in vicious smear campaign” to “defame India’s reputation and credibility”.

It is quite clear through this legal reasoning that India silences Kashmiri voices and represses them, and fears the implications of Kashmiri voices having freedom of expression in a safe environment.

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