Disappearances - a mystery unsolved in J&K
Thousands of people have simply gone missing from the custody of police and security forces during the two decades of militancy in this strife-torn border state of Jammu and Kashmir. Amir Karim Tantray reports.india Updated: Nov 13, 2009 15:47 IST
Thousands of people have simply gone missing from the custody of police and security forces during the two decades of militancy in this strife-torn border state of Jammu and Kashmir.
No one seems to know the exact numbers of the missing persons or their fate. Worst, the state government has blandly rejected any need to investigate the matter. On August 17, the government declined to set up any commission to find out whereabouts of missing persons. The near and dear ones can only wonder whether they are alive or not.
Some, like Sheik Ghulam Hassan, a resident of Doda district in Jammu region, died recently without getting to know the fate of his son Irshad Ahmed, missing since 1990. All that their near and dear ones can do is to continue to protest.
Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) assembles in the capital city of Srinagar every month to highlight indifference of the authorities. “The government has neither declared them dead nor is it interested in finding out their whereabouts,” bemoaned APDP president Khurram Parvez. According to the APDP estimates, some 8,000 people have been missing over the last two decades.
As per the government records, there is confusion as to the exact number of missing people. On July 18, 2002, the then minister of state for home Khalid Najeeb Suharwardy of NC said that 3,184 persons have gone missing. After change of regime in the state, the then chief minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed informed that 3744 persons have gone missing since 1990.
But Mufti Sayeed contradicted his own statement in 2003 during a joint press conference with Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee at Srinagar airport, where it was said that only 60 persons have disappeared in J&K since inception of militancy.
The latest state government data puts the figure of missing people at 3,429 as against a figure of 110 only contained in old statistics complied by the previous governments.
“Government is not ready to probe that how many persons have disappeared so far, who have forced them to disappear and how many have died. No commission has been set up investigate the whole episode. The present government has out rightly said that there is no need to form any commission to probe disappearances,” Parvez said. “This shows how concerned the government is,” Parvez told Hindustan Times.
Former law minister and senior leader of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Muzaffar Hussain Beig, said, “There is no chance of knowing the whereabouts of people who have gone missing and have been killed by police or security forces during custody. Because no one will come forward to tell that they have killed particular persons.”
Talking to HT, Law Minister Ali Mohammed Sagar said, “There is not yet any plan to set up any commission but chief minister Omar Abdullah is concerned about genuine cases.”
“The rule says that a person who didn’t come back to home till seven years could be declared dead and to take the benefits and compensation from government their families should apply with deputy commissioners of their respective districts,” Sagar added.