‘We Want Our Loved Ones Back’

Mohammad Raafi

SRINAGAR

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The inconsolable mother Jameela.

The Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP)—the body seeking whereabouts of their missing family members for over two decades now—this weekend held its monthly sit-in inside Srinagar’s Pratap Park to reiterate its demand about the whereabouts of their disappeared family members.

The protest was joined by hundreds of relatives, parents and other kith and kin of the victims of enforced disappearances “at the hands of Indian Army, Task Force and other security agencies” across the valley.

Carrying banners and posters like Enforced Disappearance is a Crime against Humanity, Implement Court Orders, Prosecute the Guilty, We want out Loved Ones back, who were picked by Indian Army and Security Forces, the families of the disappeared people shouted slogans against the government and called the mainstream parties “the puppets of India”.

“The endeavour and the struggle to search for the beloved ones are eternal,” said Parveena Ahangar, chairperson APDP, whose son was also subjected to enforced disappearance. “The protest will continue,” she said, “till the whereabouts of our loved ones isn’t revealed.” Ahangar, who is the face of APDP, said the HR body’s struggle will continue till “the guilty are prosecuted in a court of law”.

“We don’t want money or jobs,” said Ahangar, welling up. “Our only demand is ‘The government should reveal the whereabouts of our loved ones’ who were arrested and then subjected to enforced disappeared by the Indian Army.”

Notably, in last 25 years, nearly 8,000 Kashmiris have been reported disappeared. Behind their disappearance, the victim families put blame on the security agencies and armed forces.

Expressing hope to have a reunion with their lost ones, one day, the family members lashed out at government for turning indifferent towards their struggle. “Tell us if they are dead or alive,” they asked the government. “If they are alive then where are they? Or, if you have killed them, why don’t you say so.”

An inconsolable mother, whose 14-year-old son was picked by Indian Army in 1994, said her two decadal search hasn’t waned her will to trun for the monthly sit-in.

“I have moved from pillar to post in search of my son,” she said, “but to no avail.” He was my only son, she said. “And now, I am left with my grown up daughter.” Hailing from old city’s Safa Kadal, Jameela said her husband, a wood carver, was interrogated, and who consequently suffered a major heart attack, which left him paralysed forever.

Dilshada of Zakoora was equally troubled, “My husband became a victim of enforced disappearance in 1992. Since then I have been searching him. My world is shattered. I do not even know, whether I am a widow or what?” Her husband Bashir Ahmad Shaikh was picked by BSF in 1992, she said. “What crime have we committed? Why don’t they (government) tell us whether my husband is alive or has been killed? Isn’t this our basic human right?”

India has committed heinous crimes against Kashmiris and international powers should take a notice of it, stressed Dilshada, one of whose sons had suffered serious mental disorder after her father’s disappearance.

Meanwhile chaotic scenes unfolded inside the park when the Panthers party chief Bhim Singh tried to sneak into the protest rally only to face wrath of the protesters.

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