For the first time in 25 years, a family of a missing man, who is among thousands of those who allegedly disappeared in security forces’ custody, has accepted that he is dead.
The family of Manzoor Ahmad Dar, a chemist of Srinagar who allegedly disappeared in army custody 14-year-ago, offered his funeral prayers on Tuesday after, police suggested that the victim “could have died in custody of Army’s 35 Rashtriya Rifles, led by Major Kishore Malhotra”.
In a much surcharged atmosphere, Dar’s male relatives, neighbours and hundreds of residents converged in the ground of a high school at Rawalpora area of the city to offer funeral prayers in absentia. The women relatives watched the funeral from a distance.
The human rights groups here say that the whereabouts of over 8,000 people of Kashmir are unknown after they were picked up by different security agencies in the past 25 years of conflict.
The government, on various occasions, has come out with different figures. In 2012, the government informed the legislative assembly that “2,305 persons have been declared missing”.
Every month, the relatives of these missing persons, under the banner of Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP), assemble in a park demanding their (who went missing) whereabouts.
They have not been ready to accept that their relatives may have died even after a human right body — Coalition of Civil Society —, revealed that over 2,700 unmarked and mass graves are present across north Kashmir. The APDP had demanded DNA tests of persons lying dead in these unmarked graves.
This is for the first time that a family has accepted that their missing relative is dead, without even getting his body or any such sort of informing.
Dar’s 28-year-old daughter Bilqees Manzoor said it took her family about two months to decide about his father’s funeral, after police submitted a report in court on November 26, 2015 suggesting he (Dar) might have been killed and his body disposed of.
“Since the report came, we all have been crying. It was never easy for us to arrive at this conclusion,” she said.
Bilqees, however, vowed to keep searching for his father’s grave. “This is not the end of our struggle. I will keep searching because we don’t have his body or a grave. We only know that he is no more,” she said.
The special investigation team (SIT) of police, which was investigating the case, has invoked murder and kidnapping charges against Major Malhotra in the court. An arrest warrant has also been issued against him.
Police has also approached the central government for grant of sanction for prosecution of the accused army officer.
Major Malhotra, who is reportedly a brigadier now, has filed a special leave petition in the Supreme Court against the arrest warrant, the hearing of which was on Tuesday.