- APDP holds protest on International Day for the Disappeared; families of victims affirm they won’t give up the search, ask Indian state to reveal whereabouts of loved ones
Srinagar: On the International Day for the Disappeared, families of Kashmiri victims who were subjected to enforced disappearances by Indian forces once again appealed to the international community to put pressure on the Indian state to reveal the whereabouts of the disappeared.
As an annual ritual, dozens of such families gathered under the banner of the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) at Pratap Park in Lal Chowk on Sunday, holding banners, paintings and photos of the victims. This was as much an act of mourning as of protest, demanding that the Indian state should provide the families of victims details of where their loved ones are.
During the sit-in, art performances depicting enforced disappearances were also held. Abdul Salam Lone, a resident of Sangam in south Kashmir, whose deaf and dumb son disappeared in 1994 after being picked up by the Indian army, told Kashmir Reader that his hope about seeing his son alive was as strong as on the day when he disappeared.
“The waiting in silence is an excruciating pain. This waiting has deeply affected my health, that of my wife and my two daughters, who have become mentally ill. This waiting either ends when I die or when I learn about my son,” said Salam. Another son of his, also deaf and dumb, had earlier been killed by Indian forces.
Ghulam Hassan Sheikh, father of Abdul Hamid Sheikh who disappeared on his way to office in 2001, said this was the seventh consecutive year he was attending the protest, and that he would not give up until he found his son: “I want the Indian government to hear loud and clear that I will never abandon the search for my son. To come here, to this protest, is part of my attempt to ask the state: where have you kept my son?”
According to the APDP, around 8,000 people have been subjected to enforced disappearances by government forces after the armed insurgency started in Kashmir. In 2011, a state human rights inquiry also revealed that bodies of hundreds of men, described as unidentified militants, were buried in unmarked graves at 38 places in North Kashmir alone. Out of 2,000 such bodies, the report said, 574 were identified as those of local residents. The report also said it was likely that unidentified dead bodies buried in various unmarked graves may contain the bodies of victims of enforced disappearances.
The sit-in protest was attended by students, social activists and pro-freedom leaders including JKLF chief Yasin Malik and chairman of another JKLF faction, Javaid Mir.
—See APDP press release