SRINAGAR: To keep the search for disappeared persons alive, the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) has come out with a 2017 calendar that has for each month a story of a missing person.
The calendar that was distributed by APDP on Tuesday documents the stories of disappearances, with each month’s page carrying a photo of a person who disappeared in that month. The calendar also features poetry of many revolutionary poets.
“We take a pledge that we will not allow the state to erase the memory of the disappeared persons. This calendar is an attempt to keep bitter memories alive. 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 because as a community we have a responsibility not to forget them,” said APDP in a press statement.
January starts with the story of Shabir Ahmad Gasi, a fruit vendor, picked by Rashtriya Rifles (RR) in presence of his family members. The story says that despite an inquiry acknowledging the involvement of RR in the act, no action against the accused was taken. The mother of the disappeared Shabir passed away a year after he was picked up.
In the month of February, the APDP calendar tells of Nazir Ahmad, who was picked up by an armoured vehicle from Lal Chowk Srinagar. A year later, reads the calendar, JK special investigation team revealed that 13 RR of the Indian Army and JK police special operation group had subjected five Kashmiris to enforced disappearances and subsequently killed them in a fake encounter, one of them being Nazir.
“The case against the accused is in court and till date no reparation or compensation has been given to the family,” the calendar reads.
According to the APDP, about 8,000 people have disappeared in Kashmir since the 1990s, most of them picked up by the Indian army. In 2011, a state human rights commission inquiry revealed that bodies of hundreds of men described as unidentified militants were buried in unmarked graves at 38 places in north Kashmir. Of the more than 2,000 bodies, the report said, 574 were identified as those of local residents. There is every possibility that the unidentified bodies buried in various unmarked graves may be those of the disappeared persons.
As an annual ritual, families of persons who have disappeared, mostly after being picked up by army or paramilitary troops, used to gather at Lal Chowk and seminars were held under the aegis of both factions of the APDP, one faction led by Parveena Ahangar and the other by Parvez Imroz. The gathered families would display identity cards and photos of the disappeared persons to keep demanding information of their whereabouts and to express the sense of limbo they have left behind. At times, a display of paintings and art performances depicting enforced disappearances were also performed. However, since 2016, the APDP led by Parveena Ahanger releases yearly calendar to memorise the disappearances.