The Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) has appealed the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) to take its own investigations and recommendations regarding unmarked and mass graves to the logical conclusion by litigating the matter before the J&K High Court for implementation.
The Association said the families of the disappeared have neither been able to get emotional closure nor the legal closure. “Therefore, due to the nature of the continuing crime, it is incumbent on SHRC to play a role in accordance with its mandate and responsibility towards the victims of state violence,” a spokesperson of APDP said in a statement.
Commemorating the International Day of the Disappeared, APDP also appealed United Nations Office of High Commissioner on Human Rights (UNOHCHR) that during its forthcoming sessions, consider establishing a commission of inquiry to conduct a comprehensive independent international investigation into all the allegations of human rights violations including enforced disappearance in Jammu and Kashmir.
“OHCHR must urge the Indian state on securing all unmarked grave sites and carry out comprehensive investigations by impartial forensic experts in line with the UN Model Protocol on the disinterment and analysis of skeletal remains,” the spokesperson said.
He said the government of India must be urged to ratify International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, legislate against the crime of enforced disappearances and provide truth, justice, and reparations to all the victims of enforced disappearances.
The APDP said it has been demanding to know the whereabouts of disappeared persons whether they are dead or alive. “If dead, where have they been buried; but our demands have fallen to the deaf ears of the State,” it said.
“Despite APDP’s repeated appeals for the constitution of an independent inquiry commission to look into the crime of enforced disappearances and forensic investigation into the existence of more than 7000 unknown, unmarked and mass graves, the government continues to be in denial and deferring the process of justice in Jammu and Kashmir,” the spokesperson said.
Under the international legal obligations and respect for rule of law, the spokesperson said the Government of India cannot escape the responsibility to unravel the truth behind thousands of unmarked and mass graves in Jammu and Kashmir.
“The family members of the disappeared believe that some of these grave sites contain the remains of victims of enforced disappearances, unlawful killings, torture and other abuses which occurred in the context of armed conflict persisting in the Jammu and Kashmir. Therefore, it is imperative that the government and its institutions must investigate these sites and must come up with facts behind these graves,” he said.
He said the SHRC from time to time has conducted detailed inquiries into the unknown, unmarked and mass graves (in 5 districts of Jammu and Kashmir) and also looking into more than 650 cases of enforced disappearances submitted by APDP.
“Despite SHRC’s repeated directions and recommendations for comprehensive forensic investigation including DNA (Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid) testing into unmarked and mass graves, the government failed to comply and implement any of the recommendations,” the spokesperson said.
Pertinently, APDP on August 8 last month moved an application to the SHRC and urged it to take up the matter in the High Court.