10th January, 2017
On 10th of every month, the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) stages a silent sit-in protest against Enforced Disappearances in Jammu and Kashmir. In a situation where India has not ratified the International Convention For Protection of all Persons From Enforced Disappearances and the vagueness of India’s Domestic Law that does not enumerate Enforced Disappearance as an offence, the challenges in pursuing legal struggle is insurmountable. There is an official state policy that ensures impunity to Indian Armed Forces and promotes silencing of the past. Indian State and its collaborators have added one more inquiry to the list of the number of inquiries conducted in the past. This inquiry we are told will be conducted into some cases of Killings at the hands of Indian Police and Armed forces during the July 2016 mass uprising. Such inquiries are nothing but a sad reminder of the fact that like other inquires in the past this inquiry will either end with no results or with results that exonerate the perpetrators through sham investigations, forged documents, tampering with forensic samples. During the ongoing uprising more than 100 civilians have been killed, about 1000 have been blinded or have sustained injuries in their eyes in the firing of pellets by Indian Armed Forces. In order to quell the protests and lower the morale and resolve of people, and to force an entire population into submission Kashmir has also witnessed a spree of mass arrests and detentions under the draconian Public Safety Act, 1978,. We are not even allowed to mourn our dead as even the funeral processions of our dear ones have been attacked. Government figures themselves reveal that about 8000 people have been arrested under different criminal charges and more than 500 people have been detained under the Public Safety Act. A prolonged curfew, along with media and internet blackout, in Kashmir has been used as means of psychological warfare. Apart from this, the fundamental rights of freedom of peaceful assembly and of speech and expression remain suspended. We have a right to protest, but the state response to the current uprising has been the use of indiscriminate and use of force to crush protests.
Our movement has struggled and fought against such measures and we have challenged attempts of the state to privatize and individualize sufferings of the people. Through our struggle we have been able to collectivize the sufferings of the people of Kashmir. In last two decades the APDP through our monthly sit-in protests has been keeping alive the issue of enforced disappearances in Kashmir. In this new year of 2017 we take a pledge that we will not allow the state to erase memory of our collective suffering. Like last year we are releasing a calendar in the memory of the disappeared persons. This calendar is an attempt to keep alive our past into the present. We intend to dedicate each month in the calendar to the victims of the enforced disappearances in Kashmir. Family members of the victims of disappearances who are a part of this year’s memory calendar are here today with us. We feel that keeping alive the memory of our loved ones is an important part of our struggle. Through these calendars we want to share and preserve the memory of our struggle with the larger community of Kashmiris. As a community we have a responsibility of not allowing the memories of the sufferings of these families to pass into oblivion.
We also reiterate our demand for ratification of International Convention for Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances. The ratification will help to bring out the special nature and circumstances in which such crimes are perpetrated and will make more evident the multiple rights that are violated as a result of an enforced disappearance. We also demand that law on enforced disappearance be passed by the Jammu and Kashmir legislature so that the vagueness and ambiguity in the Indian domestic penal provisions can be overcome.
Braving cold temperatures people from different walks of life joined the families of the victims of the enforced disappearances expressing solidarity with them.
To the struggle and resilience of the people and to the families of the victims to endure and emerge victorious in such circumstances, we salute their indomitable spirit to keep the movement against enforced disappearances alive.
Parveena Ahangar Chairperson, APDP