India Rights & Wrongs
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Association of parants of disappeared persons, since its formation
in 1994, has been ampaigning against Enforced or Involuntary
Disappearances (EID) in
Jammu And Kashmir
State. The association from time to time highlighted the plight of
EID, but the govt. remains indifferent to their
In the month of January, the association had given two months notice
to the state govt. for considering their demands, which govt. has
not responded to. The association has now decided to go for hunger
strike from 17-24 April for pressing their demands.
Since 1989, when armed conflict started in Kashmir, more than 8,000
people have disappeared after their arrest by the law enforcing
agencies. Majority of them are non-combatant Kashmiris. Even the
government has admitted the phenomenon. The new Chief Minister of
state, Mufti Muhammad Sayeed on February 25, 2003 unveiled what the
security agencies had been doing during 2000, 2001 and 2002. Mufti
informed the State Assembly in
that "Three thousand seven hundred and forty four persons are
missing in between 2000 to 2002.
1,553 persons got disappeared in 2000. 1586 went missing in 2001 and
605 in 2002". Earlier, on July 18, 2002, the then Home Minister
Khalid Najeeb Soharwardy of the erstwhile National
Conference government had also admitted on the floor of the
Legislative Assembly that 3,184 person were missing in the Valley
since the inception of militancy. These figures are preliminary and
one can understand the numbers of total disappearances keeping in
view the figures furnished by the government.
Since 1989, different regimes have taken over the reigns. And, since
1986 two civilian governments have been at the helm of the affairs
but nothing on ground has changed. The present government which made
human rights an election plank and promised people
that human rights violations would be stopped at any cost and the
perpetrators would be
punished according to their Common Minimum Programme (CMP).
Notwithstanding, the election rhetoric, the disappearances continue.
2nd November 2002,
when the new government took over, there are 26 cases of
disappearances from different parts of the state, which have been
brought to the notice of state government.
customary that every new government blames previous governments for
disappearances in the state and practically all the governments have
shown indifference, callousness and helplessness under the
prevailing circumstances to address the issue confronting more
than two hundred thousands relatives of desaparecidos, although the
bureaucrats informally have expressed serious concern over the
alarming number of missing persons but have also express their
helplessness in this behalf.
Way back in 1999, the home department issued a circular in
continuation of Govt. Order No. GON 723-GR-GAD of 1990 dated
10-07-1990 read with govt. Order NO. 1073-GR of 1990
dated 19-11-1990 for constitution of the District-Screening-Cum-
Coordination Committee in each district, which will recommend the
cases of missing persons for payment of ex-gratia relief. The
Committee along with other persons was to be comprised of the
representatives of the very perpetrators (security forces). Since
the issuance of the circular, this so-called District-Screening-Cum-
Coordination Committee have seldom met. The association has no faith
in this committee comprising the perpetrators.
In 2000, the Divisional Commissioner issued a public notice in local
papers directing the relatives of the missing persons to approach
the respective deputy commissioners along with the details of the
missing persons. The relatives in thousands with lot of hope and
expectations filed the details in the office of the respective
Deputy Commissioners but till date, no body knows the fate of these
On the 30th of August 2000, the relatives commemorated the
International Day of Disappeared, which was carried by the regional
as well as national press. The National Human Rights
Commission on press reporting took the suo moto cognizance of the
matter and issued
the notice to the state government and the Association of Parents of
Disappeared Persons, for furnishing the details. The APDP complying
the directions sent those details. Since then,
nobody is aware of the progress, and it is presumed that the matter
has been shelved.
The state judiciary meant to protect the life and liberty of the
citizen and to enforce the guidelines laid on by Supreme Court of
India has failed, seldom has any perpetrator been punished or
booked under contempt for violating the guidelines. The exhaustive
litigation has only given impression to the relatives that the
institution is dysfunctional to redress their grievance or provide
justice. Notwithstanding, the institutional failure, the relatives
are relentlessly continuing their struggle by resorting to other
measures like lobbying with the civil society groups, press etc.
In 2002, the association conducted a signature campaign in which
thousands of relatives (though illiterate) signed the petition,
which was later sent to the International Human Right institutions
and organisations. This signature campaign was joined by the human
rights group from different countries (European and Asian countries)
also. Even a copy was forwarded to the authorities highlighting
The relatives are struggling on the individual as well as collective
levels to know the fate of their beloved ones but the government is
shying in acknowledging the plight of the relatives and to accept
the demands of the Association made from time to time at different
occasions. It seems that all the governments are helpless under the
prevailing circumstances to address the problem, which they believe
will demoralize the army.
Disappearance is a crime against humanity, according to the Rome
Statute adopted on 17th of July 1998, and according to the
International Criminal Court (ICC) the persons responsible for
disappearances shall be personally responsible for violation of the
International Humanitarian Law.
relatives are observing this hunger strike as a mean to highlight
their plight and in order to pressurize the government for;
(1). stopping the enforced disappearances in J&K so that other
people should not undergo the similar plight and trauma they are
(2). punishing the perpetrators responsible for enforced
disappearances as under no law the disappearances could be an
official act under any circumstances not even permissible in war
times. It would only end if perpetrators are held personally
responsible and seek no protection under the cover of impunity laws.
(3). appointment of the commission to probe into all enforced
disappearances (as has been done in other countries) in J&K state,
since 1989 and identify the state and non-state actors responsible
(4). providing justice to the relatives of the disappeared persons
according to the international standards.
The Struggle for justice shall continue.