The Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) today said that the “practice of enforced disappearances” in Kashmir seems to have resurfaced in the valley since last year even though it had seen a considerable decline during the last decade.
On the International Day of the Disappeared today the APDP held demonstration in Srinagar to seek attention of the world towards, what it calls, “the continued practice of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions of Kashmiris with impunity in Jammu and Kashmir.”
“Since last year, there has been a significant increase in the abduction of civilians who after forced disappearances are being killed extra-judicially. At least eight such incidents have been reported across Jammu and Kashmir since more than a year, while one among the eight victims still remains missing”, a APDP spokesman said here after the protest.
The APDP claims that more than 8,000 persons have been subjected to enforced or involuntary disappearances in past three decades of insurgency in Kashmir.
“Recently, a college student from Handwara area of north Kashmir was killed in a fake encounter subsequent to his disappearance and was branded as a foreign militant by the army. In another such incident from north Kashmir’s Bandipora district, a headless body of a 25-year-old youth was recovered from a river subsequent to his disappearance on August 27, 2017. APDP is gravely concerned about the spike in extra-judicial killings of people subsequent to their disappearance. The association strongly condemns such systematic acts of violence against civilians,” the spokesman said.
He said on a day when the whole world commemorates the victims of enforced disappearances, APDP would like to bring the attention of the global community–not only on the issue of more than 8,000 cases of enforced disappearances in Kashmir – but also on the existence of 7,000+ unknown, unmarked and mass graves.
The APD says the government continues to be reluctant in carrying out investigations into the enforced disappearances and the existence of unmarked and mass graves despite the recommendation from the international institutions like European Union.
In 2008, EU passed a resolution against unmarked and mass graves in Kashmir. In 2011 the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC), a government body, recommended for a comprehensive forensic examination into all the unmarked and mass graves in Jammu and Kashmir.
The APDP says for the last two years the Spanish government has begun a process of exhuming and investigating mass graves in a search for disappeared victims of the country’s civil war [1936-1939] and Franco’s regime. The government of Spain has also enacted a law titled “Law of Historical Memory”.
“If the governments like Spain can take remedial measures and investigate mass graves why can’t the government of India in order to ascertain the fate of more than 8000 disappeared persons initiate such a similar process of investigating unknown, unmarked and mass graves in Jammu and Kashmir”, the spokesman said.
He alleged India claims itself as the largest democracy and strive for a New India but it has failed in investigating human rights abuses, prosecuting perpetrators and providing truth, justice, and reparation to human rights in Jammu and Kashmir.
He cited a recent verdict of Armed Forces Tribunal on Machil fake encounter case and said it has created fear and dismay among the family members of the disappeared.
The tribunal had suspended the life sentence of the five army men, who were convicted by army’s General Court Martial in 2014.
On April 30, 2010 the Army claimed killing of three unidentified Pakistani infiltrators in the Machil sector along the LoC. Days after the encounter villagers of Nadihal in Sopore, 70 km northwest of Srinagar, filed a missing report of three youth before police. Later it turned out that the youths were killed in a staged encounter on the evening of April 29 with Army claiming that they were militants. On May 29, 2010 the bodies of the youth were exhumed by the Police after massive protests. They were identified by their parents. The parents said faces of the youths were painted by the Army to pass their bullet ridden bodies as of foreign militants. The killings had sparked massive protests across the Valley. In fact former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah says that Machil killings triggered mass agitation across Kashmir which led to the killing of around 112 civilian protesters in government forces action in 2010.
“Machil was the rarest of rare cases of enforced disappearance or fake encounter in Kashmir wherein guilty armed forces were convicted under their own Court Martial. The dismissal of their sentence by the Tribunal perpetuates the existing culture of impunity for protecting the perpetrators of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions in Jammu and Kashmir. By doing so, the political and military leadership of India want to boost the morale of the army in Jammu and Kashmir and the verdict carries out the message that there exists no accountability for violating human rights”, APDP spokesman alleged.