For last more than two decades, Kashmir tragically has become home for every kind of tragedy that a human mind can think of. Almost a whole generation was wiped out in its most productive age. Economy was devastated and worst upheavals in demography took place.
Of the many stark tragedies – the crisis in the families whose members disappeared from the custody of government forces is stalking the conscience of the system for all these years. Month after month, scores of grim faced women, aged and ailing elders drive from far away places across Kashmir to have symbolic sit-ins in Srinagar. Holding photographs of their missing members, these women come with tales of existential crises, threats, stress and lack of basic daily requirements.
The government has been routinely admitting the phenomenon in the state legislature. But statistics about the missing remained changing with the persons who read the read-ready statements in the house. Assurances have always been there but nothing concrete has happened so far.A section of the ruling class had initiated the argument that some of the youth listed in the missing persons report are actually staying in the camps on the other side of the LoC. At one point of time, the government even released some names as well.
The argument, however, lacked buyers within and outside J&K because there are scores of cases in which formal investigations were carried out by magistrates, investigating agencies that proved conclusively the guilt. In certain cases, investigations even identified the individuals responsible for the act of arrest.
Already, there has been inordinate delay. The government is habitual of announcing commissions and setting up special teams. A court could have been designated to hear the cases falling in this category. By now, it might have been in a position to offer the government some kind of a way out.
The policy makers in the state need to take the issue seriously because it has a critical human aspect – the women and the children associated with it. Compensating their losses is just one part of the exercise. But it has a legal problem – how can a government compensate for a human being unless it knows where the person has gone and how? That is requirement of the systems and the law. This will also address the desperation of families who want justice.
At the same time, the society can not escape its responsibilities. There have been a number of cases in which the so called half-widows were literally thrown out of the homes of their husbands, their lawful inheritance snatched. Some of these women are finding it really difficult to survive and to educate their children. Though a couple of charities are trying to address the issue but the crisis is too huge.