ASSOCIATION OF PARENTS OF DISAPPEARED PERSONS
28th April 2008
This is exactly one month after we released a report of a fact finding mission on nameless graves and mass graves in Uri area titled 'Facts Under Ground' which evoked response from the media, human rights groups, politicians and political formations of various hues, civil society and people at large.
We want to utilize this occasion to appreciate, thank and criticize the concerned on their response; and to make requests and demands for fresh, comprehensive and sustained responses from the stake holders i.e. the local and international civil society and HR Groups, Political formations and resistance Groups, local and international media, lawyers' groups, international humanitarian agencies and people.
First of all we appreciate the local print media for the coverage given to the report. We urge for a sustained campaign of follow up reporting to build a more compelling case for urgent international expert and humanitarian intervention in order to initiate credible measures to establish the identity of those buried in these graves and seek linkages with the thousands subjected to Enforced Disappearance by the state security agencies in Kashmir from 1989 till date. The families of the disappeared have neither the resources nor the expertise to carry out either the job of comprehensive reporting or the task of scientific exhumation and identification of those buried in these nameless graves and mass graves.
We have received more reports of the existence of mass graves and nameless graves, some of which has already been reported by a section of the local press. We expect people and the media to be more proactive in reporting about the existence of such graves with all the available detail and local narratives about them. This will bring their existence into public knowledge and thereby help in safeguarding the grave sites from tampering. We request the people to take all steps necessary to safeguard these sites from any kind of interference till such time as we are able to garner the support and intervention of internationally credible expert and humanitarian bodies to undertake a thorough exercise of identifying these bodies. We believe some of those subjected to enforced disappearance are buried in these graves and the process of identification, that we are demanding, will provide some relief to the families whose kin have disappeared, will enable a decent burial of the victims and contribute to producing the necessary evidence against the perpetrators thus help in breaking the culture of impunity enjoyed by the state security agencies. It is the moral and humanitarian duty of the local people to do whatever is possible to safeguard these sites and the bounden duty of the local media persons to take extra pains to unearth these skeletons and ferret out the truth in all its ugly detail.
We expect the local lawyer community to take up the issue in the relevant forums, file PIL and undertake a legal campaign to force the Government and its security agencies to come out with verifiable truth and fix responsibility for these crimes as it is the government and its security agencies who are the ultimate repositories of information about these graves and also about those disappeared involuntarily while in their custody.
We impress upon the local political formations of all hues to encourage people to provide more information about these and other grave sites and to take necessary measures to safeguard these sites from tampering or interference considering them as an extremely sensitive and a sacred trust with them.
We express our satisfaction at the issue of comprehensive statements by various humanitarian groups particularly the Amnesty International and the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) demanding that India should investigate all allegations of enforced disappearances in Jammu & Kashmir following reports of mass graves.
We expect the international humanitarian bodies particularly the Amnesty International and AFAD to initiate steps toward implementation of their demands by lobbying with the relevant credible international bodies.
We also urge the ICRC, which is operating in Kashmir to volunteer their expertise on this issue.
We understand the callous attitude of the state security agencies in dismissing our findings as a result of their direct involvement in these crimes as is borne out by the various fake encounters and custodial killings documented and reported extensively. We believe that this callous and inhuman attitude of the security agencies springs from the culture of impunity produced as a result of the draconian laws operating in Jammu and Kashmir, which do not allow the families of the victims to pursue their cases productively.
We believe that this report should be a cause of alarm for those with a human heart and a concrete basis for the international expert groups and humanitarian and human rights bodies for initiating an urgent action to probe the matter.
Ghulam Nabi Mir