Srinagar: Members of the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP), an organisation seeking whereabouts of enforced disappearance victims , Monday announced called for boycott of elections in Jammu and Kashmir.
“APDP appeals that other families of the disappeared and all persons who have suffered at the hands of the Indian State must not engage with the electoral process,” it said in a statement.
“It was felt that despite successive changes of government, whether in New Delhi, or in Jammu and Kashmir, there has been no change for the family members of the disappeared or for that matter for the people of Jammu and Kashmir as a whole, including victims/family members of human rights violations,” the group said.
The APDP also appealed that other families of the disappeared and all persons who have suffered at the hands of the Indian state must not engage with the electoral process.
“The National Conference, Peoples Democratic Party and Indian National Congress have been in power at different points in Jammu and Kashmir between 1996 and the present. But, none of them took any steps to resolve the issue of enforced disappearances. Except for comments when in opposition, these parties, and the representatives have consistently worked towards the larger Indian State policy in Jammu and Kashmir and sought to protect the perpetrators for human rights violations,” it said further.
Noting that no political party in their election manifesto has referred to the alarming issue of 8000 disappearances that effects more than an estimated one lakh family members and relatives of the disappeared, the group said: while providing different and contradictory figures, all political parties have admitted the reality of enforced disappearances. “But, they have taken no action. Except making promises like setting up truth and reconciliation commission [NC] and empowering State Human Rights Commission [PDP] nothing has been done by any of the parties,” the APDP said.
The Indian States record in Jammu and Kashmir includes a State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) finding of October 2011 that confirmed the phenomenon of unknown, unmarked and mass graves.
Numerous recommendations were made by the SHRC, including Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid (DNA) testing and forensic examinations of the bodies in the graves. “Further, the SHRC recommended that an independent body be set up to enquire into the issue of unknown, unmarked and mass graves. APDP too has consistently demanded that an independent Commission be set up to enquire into the crimes of enforced disappearances. To date, none of the recommendations of the SHRC or demands of APDP in this matter have been acted upon. No DNA testing, no forensic examinations and no further enquiries or Commissions set up,” it said.
In other countries across the world, Governments have set up Commissions to inquire into the phenomenon of disappearances. In Jammu and Kashmir, no such Commission has been set up, and instead the strategy has been to ignore or seek to discredit claims of disappearance.
“The election process provides legitimacy and credibility to elected leaders. Based on the above acts of the Indian State and the political parties in Jammu and Kashmir, APDP believes and appeals to all that no further legitimacy should be provided through the electoral process until all important issues are addressed, particularly that of justice,” the group said.