Skip to main content

Almost total impunity for "enforced" disappearances in J&K: Practice was first used in World War-II

By Syed Mujtaba Hussain*
Enforced disappearance is the most offensive form of human rights violation. It inflicts intolerable pain on the victim’s body, mind as well as spirit. Besides that, it creates separation among parents, relatives and children’s because they do not know whether their loved ones are alive or dead. They feel fear for their safety, economic deprivation, legal injustice and social isolation.
The tool of enforced disappearance was born as a practice during Second World War. However, this practice has now turned into a worldwide exercise. Over a few decades millions of people have disappeared in Cambodia, Latin America, Iraq, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Philippines, Baluchistan and Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).
India has not made enforced disappearances a specific criminal offence in its penal code. As a result, families of the “disappeared” file complaints under more general provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure and Penal Code. For example, families often lodge “missing persons” complaints with the police regarding family members who might have been subjected to enforced disappearance.
Other commonly used provisions include “abduction”, “kidnapping” or “wrongful confinement”. In some instances, families have approached High Courts or the Supreme Court, and used the writ of hibeas corpus to find the whereabouts of “disappeared” persons.
A large number of enforced disappearances are reported from areas considered “disturbed” under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), such as Kashmir and Manipur. Once an area is declared “disturbed” under AFSPA, armed forces are given a range of “special powers”, which include the power to arrest without warrant, to enter and search any premises.
Furthermore, under AFSPA, governmental permission, or sanction, is required before any member of the armed forces can be prosecuted for crimes in a civilian court, thus effectively shielding armed forces from accountability for human rights violations (International Commission of Jurists, “India: repeal Armed Forces Special Powers Act immediately”, November 2015).
AFSPA allows the state to over-ride the basic rights of an individual and there is no place for this law in democracy.
In India, enforced disappearances have occurred most often in regions facing insurgency or armed conflict. According to a report released by the International Peoples Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice and the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons in 2012, there had been around 8,000 enforced disappearances in Kashmir during the period of 1989 to 2012. Disappearance of beloved ones is more gruesome than death.
The police investigation wing of the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) in 2011, had confirmed that 2,156 unidentified bodies lay in unmarked graves at 38 locations in north Kashmir. The SHRC had ordered the investigation after taking cognisance of a December 2009 report on mass graves titled “Buried Evidence” by the International People's Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Kashmir (IPTK).
In its 17-page report, the SHRC's 11-member team has revealed that 2,730 bodies had been buried in north Kashmir's Baramulla, Bandipore and Kupwara districts. It is beyond doubt that unmarked graves containing dead bodies do exist in various places in north Kashmir,” the SHRC report says. “The maximum bodies have bullet injuries,” it has concluded.
This has been the hallmark of the government approach if one looks at official pronouncements since 2002. Interestingly, the official figures have been going down – from 3,931 in June 2001 to 3,429 in August 2009 – though complaints of disappearances have only increased. 
Syed Mujtaba Hussain
The disappearance of thousands of youths laid the negative consequences and paved a way for gun culture. Recent Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Report on Kashmir being the first ever report of UN on gross violation of human rights, is an ample evidence of atrocities. The report is needed to be widely discussed, and debated.
The need of hour is that the state and the centre governments should repeal the inhuman laws and the government should stop the enforced disappearances in J&K and punish the perpetrators responsible for enforced disappearances. Furthermore there should be an appointment of a commission which will probe into all enforced disappearances (as has been done in other countries), so that justice may be done to the relatives of the disappeared persons according to international standards. 
---
*Human rights activist studying the changing socio-political context of Jammu and Kashmir. Contact: jaan.aalam@gmail.com

Comments

TRENDING

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

BSF should take full responsibility for death of 4 kids in West Bengal: Rights defender

By Kirity Roy*  One is deeply disturbed and appalled by the callous trench-digging by BSF in Chetnagachh village under Daspara Gram Panchayat, Chopra, North Dinajpur District, West Bengal that has claimed the lives of four children. Along the entire stretch of Indo-Bangladesh border of West Bengal instead of guarding the actual border delineated by the international border pillars, BSF builds fences and digs trenches well inside the Indian territory, passing through villages and encroaching on private lands, often without due clearance or consent. 

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

How GMOs would destroy non-GMO crops: Aruna Rodrigues' key submissions in SC

Counterview Desk The introduction of Bt and HT crops will harm the health of 1 billion Indians and their animals, believes Aruna Rodrigues, who has made some 60 submissions to the Supreme Court (SC) during the last 20 years. As lead petitioner who filed Public Interest Litigation in 2005, during a spate of intense hearings, which ended on 18 January 2024, she fought in the Apex Court to prevent the commercialization of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in Indian agriculture. 

Social justice day amidst 'official neglect' of salt pan workers in Little Rann of Kutch

By Prerana Pamkar*  In India’s struggle for Independence, the Salt Satyagraha stands as a landmark movement and a powerful symbol of nonviolent resistance. Led by Mahatma Gandhi, countless determined citizens walked from Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi in Gujarat. However, the Gujarat which witnessed the power of the common Indian during the freedom struggle is now in the throes of another significant movement: this time it is seeking to free salt pan workers from untenable working conditions in the Little Rann of Kutch (LRK).

Corporatizing Indian agriculture 'to enhance' farmer efficiency, market competitiveness

By Shashank Shukla*  Today, amidst the ongoing farmers' protest, one of the key demands raised is for India to withdraw from the World Trade Organization (WTO). Let us delve into the feasibility of such a move and explore its historical context within India's globalization trajectory.

Jallianwala massacre: Why Indian govt hasn't ever officially sought apology from UK

By Manjari Chatterjee Miller*  The king of the Netherlands, Willem-Alexander, apologized in July 2023 for his ancestors’ role in the colonial slave trade. He is not alone in expressing remorse for past wrongs. In 2021, France returned 26 works of art seized by French colonial soldiers in Africa – the largest restitution France has ever made to a former colony. In the same year, Germany officially apologized for its 1904-08 genocide of the Herero and Nama people of Namibia and agreed to fund reconstruction and development projects in Namibia. .

Interpreting UAPA bail provisions: Is Supreme Court setting the clock back?

By Kavita Srivastava*, Dr V Suresh** The Supreme Court in its ruling on 7th February, 2024 in   `Gurvinder Singh v State of Punjab’ held that its own well-developed jurisprudence that "Bail is the rule and jail the exception" will not apply to those charged under the UAPA.

A 'distorted narrative' of Indian politics: Congress failing to look beyond LS polls

By Prem Singh*  About 15 days ago, I told a senior journalist friend that there are not even two   months left for the Lok Sabha elections, Rahul Gandhi is roaming around on a delectation (tafreeh). The friend probably found my comment exasperating and replied that he is not on a delectation trip. The conversation between us on this topic ended there. 

Livelihood issues return to national agenda ahead of LS polls: SKM on Bharat Bandh

Counterview Desk  Top farmers' network, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) has claimed big success of Grameen Bharat Bandh and industrial /sectoral strikes, stating, the “struggle reflected anger of farmers, workers and rural people across India”, adding, the move on February 16 succeeded in bringing back peoples’ livelihood issues in the national agenda just ahead of the general election to the Lok Sabha.