Month by month, Kashmir’s missing persons lay claim to 2016

  • Abhishek Saha, Hindustan Times, Srinagar
  • Updated: Dec 13, 2015 01:56 IST
The unique calender dedicates each month to a Kashmiri who went missing over the last two decades. (Waseem Andrabi/HT Photo)

On January 20, 1990, 28-year-old autorickshaw driver Abdul Hamid Badhiyari was allegedly picked up by Indian Army personnel from Srinagar. His family — wife and two children — haven’t heard of him since.

Mohammad Latif Khan, a 36-year-old potter in Chandanwari village of north Kashmir, was taken away on July 14, 1990, allegedly by the CRPF. His wife and three children are awaiting his return. Similar is the story of Javaid Ahmad Dar, an eight-year-old boy from Sopore, whose family has not heard from him since October 3, 1990.

These are just three of an estimated 10,000 cases of what is commonly known as “forced disappearances” — a term that refers to people who go missing after allegedly being taken away by security personnel.

Keeping the search for them and justice alive, the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) has come out with a 2016 calender where each month has the sketch and story of one missing person. They hope having to stare at the sketch of a missing person for 30 days at a stretch will help add momentum to their struggle.

Each month is dedicated to the person who went missing during it. So, Badhiyari’s sketch adorns the January page while Khan features in the July leaf. The calendar also carries poignant quotes and poetry from famous Urdu and Kashmiri poets, including Habba Khatoon and Faiz Ahmad Faiz.

In the first of its kind initiative, the APDP has printed 4,000-odd copies of the calendar so far and aims to distribute them primarily among families of those who disappeared. The remaining copies would then be given to media organisations, human rights bodies and non-government organisations fighting for information on “forced” disappearances in the Valley. The APDP, which has kept the struggle going for more than two decades, has also come up with postcards along the same lines.

Its chairperson Parveena Ahangar told HT, “This calendar is an attempt to keep the two-decade-old fight alive. We will document the stories of 12 youth through such calenders each year.”

“There are between 8,000 and 10,000 cases of reported disappearances in the Valley. We want to keep the discussion on these missing men in the public discourse alive,” she added.

Her son Javiad Ahmed Ahangar, who was allegedly picked up by security agencies on August 18, 1990, also features in the calendar. “Governments came and went, but we haven’t received any information as to where our sons have gone. We will continue the struggle. If our sons are alive we will find them,” Ahangar said.

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