Enforced Disappearances: India Remains in Denial of Ongoing International Movement, says APDP



The last week of May every year is recognized internationally as the ‘International Week of the Disappeared’.

“The Indian State has remained in denial of the ongoing international movement against enforced disappearances. Following the commission of widespread and systematic enforced disappearances, the Indian State has chosen to protect itself and its own forces by disregarding the very existence of the crime itself. The number of fully documented cases today in Jammu and Kashmir stands at 1519. According to conservative estimates, and extrapolating from existing documentation, more than 8000 people have been subject to enforced disappearances in Jammu and Kashmir since 1989. There are 7000+ unmarked and mass graves in Jammu and Kashmir,” Tahira Begum spokesperson, Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP), said in a statement on Thursday.

“Government of Jammu and Kashmir is also culpable for both aiding the State in the crimes and in the ongoing cover up. Despite a consistent campaign in Jammu and Kashmir against enforced disappearances for 26 years, no action whatsoever has been taken. No Commission of Inquiry as demanded was set up. There have been no effective investigations. No prosecutions whatsoever. The connected issue of unmarked and mass graves in Jammu and Kashmir, which was recognized by the State Human Rights Commission [SHRC] in 2011 [2156 graves in three districts of North Kashmir], and the European Parliament in its resolution in July 2008, has not been addressed by the government. The SHRC has been made defunct and ongoing complaints by APDP of 3844 unmarked and mass graves in Poonch and Rajouri districts, and 507 cases of enforced disappearances from Baramulla and Bandipora, and 132 cases of enforced disappearance from Banihal, remain pending. This is in addition to numerous other complaints in individual cases of enforced disappearances. As APDP and families of disappeared began to approach the SHRC, the government chose to make it defunct. Despite APDP providing evidence of the involvement of police personnel such as present ADGP SM Sahai, ex-DGP Kuldeep Khoda, and army personnel such as Brigadier VK Sharma of the Dogra Regiment, and CO RK Singh of the 9 Para commandoes, in crimes of enforced disappearances the government has not ensured an alternative independent investigative mechanism and has instead chosen to subject them to the same criminal police system which has ensured impunity,” she said.

“With regard to unmarked graves, in September 2011 the then Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said that families would need to indicate in which graveyard their relatives may be buried, and following this the government would do the needful. On 13 August 2012, the government of Jammu and Kashmir refused to accept the recommendations of the SHRC, including on DNA tests. This refusal to investigate enforced disappearance and graves is a continuing torture for the families of the disappeared. On 26 March 2015, APDP submitted its demands on the issue of enforced disappearances to the present Chief Minister. There has been no action or response to this communication to date. As the Indian State and Government of Jammu and Kashmir continue to disregard demands for justice their culpability for these crimes is made clearer. Under international law, all present and past officials in positions of responsibility must be held accountable for their role in the crimes committed in Jammu and Kashmir, including the numerous enforced disappearances. Until then, the families of the disappeared will continue to remember and struggle. In this context, APDP appeals to religious leaders to make special prayers for the disappeared tomorrow, 29 May 2015,” she added. (KNS)

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