An influential global human rights group — Human Rights Watch (HRW) of New York has asked the Indian Government to launch a "credible and independent investigation into all disappearances and fake encounter killings in Jammu and Kashmir state since the conflict began in 1989".
The HRW said in a statement released from its headquarters and circulated to the media in Jammu and Kashmir that it reminded the Government of the significance of such a probe in the light of India's signing of the United Nations treaty to combat forced disappearances on February 6.
Referring to the judicial inquiry ordered into the recent cases of the disappearances and uncovering of the alleged fake encounters in Kashmir, beginning with the tracing of the body of a carpenter Abdul Rehman Padder, the HRW Asia Director Brad Adams said that these "revelations have confirmed what families in Kashmir have been alleging all along."
"The Indian security forces have 'disappeared' countless people in Jammu and Kashmir since 1989 and staged fake encounter killings while fabricating claims that those killed were terrorists," he said.
Citing the charge of the Association of the Parents of the Disappeared Persons and the number of 10,000 missing people, HRW said the need is for thorough investigations.
"We welcome judicial inquiries into encounter killings, but given the government's track record, there is a reason to be skeptical," said Adams. "We hope the Indian government will surprise us with a speedy and credible investigation.
Human Rights Watch urged the Indian authorities to establish an independent commission on 'disappearances' and fake encounter killings, one that is empowered to compel both the testimony of state agents and the disclosure of documents. The commission should include eminent persons who inspire enough trust to enable witnesses or victims' families to register such cases without fear of intimidation. According to the APDP, many families have not filed missing person complaints because they fear retribution from the security forces."
Human Rights Watch said that witnesses and family members told them that they hadn't filed complaints because they were afraid of retaliation or because they felt that the police would not take their complaints seriously.
"To end the vicious cycle of violence and mistrust, Kashmiris have to be able to trust that their complaints will be heard and addressed," said Adams.
Human Rights Watch called on the Indian government to establish an independent and impartial commission of inquiry into serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law by Indian security forces since the beginning of the Kashmir conflict in 1989. The findings of the commission should be made public and the commission should be empowered to recommend the prosecution of persons implicated for abuse.
The government of Jammu and Kashmir should publish its list of missing persons, so that families and groups like APDP and the government can begin to account for missing persons. As there are over 30,000 Kashmiri refugees in Pakistan, such a list could be provided to the Pakistani government, which could also assist in identifying those who are now in Pakistan.