In Kashmir “There is almost total impunity for enforced disappearance with little movement towards credibly investigating complaints, including into alleged sites of Mass Graves”, Stated Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein (UN High Commissioner for Human Rights)
Dated: 29 June 2018
The Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) today welcomes the comprehensive report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on alarming situation of human rights in Jammu and Kashmir and the need of International inquiry for investigating large-scale human rights violations including enforced disappearances & mass graves. Since more than two decades APDP has been persistently demanding that government of India must acknowledge the phenomenon of enforced or involuntary disappearances in Jammu and Kashmir and must set up an inquiry commission on the crime of enforced disappearances under the Commissions of Inquiry Act-1952 to investigate cases of more than 8000 disappeared Kashmiris. But on the contrary Indian state continues to be in denial to acknowledge the crime of enforced disappearances in Kashmir and to investigate the fate of more than 8000 disappeared persons. Further, the government refused to allow or initiate any investigation into more than 7000 unmarked and mass graves despite recommendations from its State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) in 2011 and 2017 for a comprehensive forensic examination including DNA testing.
The Indian states constant insensitive approach has always deprived the victim families of truth, justice and reparations, with the result the families of disappeared including parents, half widows and half orphans continued to suffer endlessly in the quest to know the fate and whereabouts of their loved ones. So far, the government has never shown any concern over the plight of thousands of families of the disappeared in Kashmir and instead it has always remained over concerned about the morale of their soldiers for whom there is absolute impunity.
APDP appreciates that the report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights clearly vindicates the fact that the practice of enforced disappearance continues in Kashmir and the perpetrators are never brought to book. The report establishes that “Impunity for enforced or involuntary disappearances in Kashmir continues as there has been little movement towards credibly investigating complaints, including into alleged sites of mass graves in the Kashmir Valley and Jammu region.” APDP values the remarkable call of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein to UN Human Rights Council that it should set up a Commission of Inquiry to conduct a comprehensive independent international investigation into all allegations of human rights violations and abuses including the crime of enforced or involuntary disappearances in Jammu and Kashmir.
It is pertinent to mention that international institutions and rights bodies time and again recognizes the gravity of rights abuse by armed forces in Jammu and Kashmir and have always called for investigation and protection of rights of Kashmiris. In July 2008, the European Parliament adopted a resolution and called on the Indian government to ensure independent and impartial investigations into all the sites of mass graves. Beside this, international human rights organization likes Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Peace Brigade International, etc have repeatedly expressed their concerns over widespread human rights abuse in Kashmir and urged for justice and reparations, but regardless of all the international pressure, the Indian state continued it systematic and institutional violence in Jammu and Kashmir.
APDP strongly denounces the Indian states frivolous and indifferent response to the UN report on Kashmir and terms it unfortunate. The successive Indian governments in power have always used delay, denial, intimidation and violence to scuttle fair and proper investigations into the human rights abuses including cases of enforced disappearance and alleged sites of mass graves in Jammu and Kashmir. Notwithstanding the claim of being largest democracy in the world and an aspirant for the permanent seat in the UN Security Council, the Indian state has never allowed International human rights bodies including UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (UNWGEID) to conduct the fact finding and to monitor situation of human rights including enforced disappearances in Jammu and Kashmir. Further, despite signing the International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (ICPPED) in 2007, Indian state continues to be reluctant to ratify it.
The recent report of UN-OHCHR forms an integral part of APDP’s relentless campaign against enforced disappearances. In March 2012, APDP submitted General Allegations to UNWGEID and sought its intervention. In September 2015, APDP and International People’s Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Kashmir (IPTK) published its comprehensive research report titled “Structure of Violence-Indian State in Jammu and Kashmir” and submitted the same to the UN Office of High Commissioner on Human Rights for perusal and intervention and in September 2016, APDP submitted its shadow report to UN for consideration during the review of India’s human rights record by United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) under the “Universal Periodic Review” (UPR) which was held in May 2017. With the release of recent UN report APDP believes that the struggle of the families of disappeared has ensured that the truth has not been covered up.
In light of the UNCHR report, the global community must not escape the responsibility of urging government of India to end unprecedented cycle of human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir and ensure respect to all internationally guaranteed rights by allowing independent International Investigation into all the alleged human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir. Moreover, APDP urges that moral pressure be brought upon the Indian State to act as per principles of law and justice and allow unconditional access to all international rights bodies to investigate all allegation of human rights including phenomenon of enforced or involuntary disappearances in Jammu and Kashmir.