This is the Press Statement of Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons
Today on the occasion of International Day of Human Rights, Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) submitted 132 cases of enforced or involuntary disappearances of Banihal area of Ramban district to the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC).
The submitted cases are of the people living in different villages of Banihal area, who have disappeared since 1989 under various circumstances. As per the knowledge of victim families, some families have registered cases in their concerned police stations, while in many cases missing reports or complaints could not be filed at the police stations due to the reluctance of police and sometimes due to threats to the victim families.
The perpetrators involved in these 132 cases have been identified as personnel of the Indian army, militants and Jammu and Kashmir police. As per the documented findings, out of total 132 disappearance cases, 21 have been perpetrated by forces of the Indian army, 24 by different militant groups, 1 by the personnel of Jammu and Kashmir police. While in the 43 cases the perpetrators were unidentified gunmen and in remaining 43 cases disappeared in unknown circumstances by unknown agencies.
Among the 24 cases perpetrated by militants, 10 have been disappeared by an infamous Hizbul Mujahideen militant, Nazir Ahmed Wani alias Papplu who was later killed by the Hizbul Mujahideen organization itself.
In the 21 cases where the Indian army has been identified as involved, so far nobody has been prosecuted or held accountable. The processes of justice have been barred from prosecuting personnel of armed forces. Similarly in 1 case where Jammu and Kashmir Police were involved, impunity persists.
In 43 cases where families of the disappeared claim that they have witnessed unidentified armed men abduct their loved ones, the unidentified gunmen could be either state or non-state actors. In the last 22 years, armed forces personnel, militants and government sponsored militias (Ikhwanis) have been accused of disappearing people in the garb of unidentified gunmen, and therefore it would be very difficult for APDP to accuse any particular agency with certainty.
It is in this context that APDP has submitted these 132 cases to the SHRC, so that a thorough investigation is carried out regarding the whereabouts of all the cases of enforced disappearances. The family members of the disappeared want to know whether their loved ones are dead or alive. If they are alive they want the government to divulge the whereabouts of these disappeared persons. If they are dead the families want the government to identify the graves of these persons.
The relatives of disappeared persons fear that their loved ones might be buried in unmarked graves across Jammu and Kashmir, and in this regard they have appealed to the SHRC to direct state authorities to carry out investigations into such unmarked graves, through available means of investigation like DNA testing and other forensic methods.
Besides identification of unmarked graves and ascertaining the whereabouts of their loved ones, APDP demands that all those involved in this heinous crime of enforced disappearances should be prosecuted irrespective of their backgrounds or posts they hold.
This petition has been submitted in the SHRC today by Adv. Parvez Imroz – legal adviser of APDP, Abdul Gani Tantray – APDP representative from Banihal and Khurram Parvez – program coordinator of APDP.