Zahid Yousuf Mantoo
There are reportedly more than 8,000 cases of enforced disappearances in Jammu and Kashmir. These disappearances began in the 1990s even before the enactment and implementation of The Jammu & Kashmir Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in September 1990, which provides impunity for India’s armed forces. The Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) in Kashmir has brought out several reports documenting cases of enforced disappearances.
Every inch of this land has its own tale of woe. The unending wait of families for their loved ones who disappeared has become a norm here. Years have passed but their wait continues. It seems to be a mirage that they are chasing. Many have sunk into despair.
“Rivers, hills, the moon and stars
What do they know of separation’s indelible scars!” (Allama Iqbal)
The United Nations (UN) Declaration on the protection of all persons from enforced disappearances (18 December 1992) considers enforced disappearances as a violation of fundamental human rights. This year, the world is observing the International Week of the Disappeared (IWD) from May 24 to May 30. The United Nations is urging an end to enforced disappearances and calling for justice to be given to families of disappeared persons.
Justice is what the dozens of people who gather and protest together at Pratap Park in Srinagar every month seek. On the tenth day of every month, they hold up placards in their hands on which is written their unanswered question: “Where are our dear ones?”. This is a question for you, for me, for all of us.
The writer is a student of history