24 years on, families of missing people seek justice | india | Hindustan Times
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24 years on, families of missing people seek justice

india Updated: Aug 31, 2013 00:48 IST
Peerzada Ashiq

The Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) on Friday asked the government to institute an independent commission of inquiry into the complaints of enforced disappearances, extra-judicial killings, torture and rapes allegedly carried out by state actors in the last 24 years of conflict in Kashmir.

Speaking during a demonstration of the victim families, whose relatives have "disappeared" without a trace since 1989, in Srinagar, APDP chairperson Parveena Ahangar said, "The laws and policies should be put in place to ensure protection of witnesses and those complaining against arbitrary state action."

The victim families had gathered in Srinagar to observe the International Day for Disappeared Persons and to press for their demands. There were wearing tags around their heads and carrying placards demanding justice in cases of enforced disappearances.

"India should implement the recommendations of Universal Periodic Review-2 and ratify the International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearances. There is also need to repeal the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, which gives impunity to soldiers," said Ahangar.

The APDP also called upon the government to provide adequate compensation to families of disappeared people.

Human rights bodies put the number of disappeared people around 7,000 in Kashmir. Significantly, around 2,600 unmarked graves have been found in north Kashmir in the recent years.

The government maintains that there are chances that disappeared people might be across the Line of Control. However, the victim families allege that in most cases it was security agencies, who picked up these persons. The victim families are pushing for DNA test of those buried in the unmarked graves.

Meanwhile, a separate faction of the APDP took strong note of the German Embassy's move to hold a musical shows "despite knowing ground realities of human rights abuses committed by security agencies in the state".

"An event such as this one (Zubin Mehta's concert), sponsored by the state, devoid of any connection to the realities of Jammu and Kashmir, is most unfortunate. The international community has been expected to take the side of truth and justice," said APDP faction's spokesperson Tahira Begum.

The German embassy is organising a musical concert by Mehta in Srinagar on September 7.

"In 2008, the European Parliament passed a resolution recognising the presence of unidentified graves, condemned human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir, urged legislative reform that would assist investigations and prosecutions of crimes, urged the Indian state to ensure independent and impartial investigations of graves, and called on the European Commission to offer financial and technical support to the Indian government in this regard. It is condemnable that the German government does not choose to question the Indian state on its human rights violations or its complete disregard for the 2008 European parliament resolution," she said.