The Kashmir valley is today one of the most militarized zone in the world. With about 700,000 armed and paramilitary forces stationed there the ratio of civilian to security personnel is about 1:7 In this highly militarized zone the life and liberty of people is governed by draconian legislations awarding arbitrary and excessive powers of preventive detention, arrest, search, seizure and power to shoot to kill on suspicion use lethal force, such as the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act, Jammu and Kashmir Disturbed Areas Act, and the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1990. Immunity is inscribed in this legal architecture and this has spawned a culture of impunity. While human rights violations by security forces have been rampant over the last 2 decades there has been no accountability of the same. Despite investigations and judicial enquiries no one has been punished for egregious crimes such as extra judicial executions, custodial torture, rape and enforced disappearances.
Enforced disappearances Additionally, disappearances and extra-judicial killings are also attributed to armed counter-insurgency renegades (“ikwans”), primarily former militants who have either surrendered or changed sides, used by security forces in the region to intimidate civilians in various ways particularly those attempting to access justice and realize constitutionally guaranteed human rights.
Unofficial estimates put the of disappeared persons between 1989 and 2006 at anywhere between 8000-10,000. A majority of those disappeared are young men, including minors, others include people of all ages, professions and backgrounds, many of whom have no connection with the armed opposition groups operating in Kashmir.
Although India signed the International Convention for Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances in 2007, it has failed to ratify the Convention and only a fraction of the cases on disappearances have been investigated.
Although the number of disappearances has reduced in the recent past, the struggle for justice in existing cases continue.
Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) is a collective of relatives of victims of enforced and involuntary disappearances in Kashmir. Disappearances often end in extra-judicial killings or death by torture. The APDP was formed in 1994 to organize efforts to seek justice and get information on the whereabouts of missing family members. It presently consists of family members of about one thousand victims. APDP actively campaigns for an end to the practice and international crime of involuntary and enforced disappearances at local, national and international platforms. Members of the APDP have been engaged in documenting enforced disappearances in Kashmir since 1989 and have collected information on over one thousand such cases, so for. On the 10th of each month families of the disappeared come together under the aegis of APDP to hold a public protest in Srinagar to commemorate the disappearance of their loved ones and seek answers from the state about the whereabouts of the missing persons.
APDP have and continue to face major challenges in meeting its objectives due to acts of omission and commission by state agencies. This constitutes serious breaches of fundamental rights guaranteed under the Indian Constitution as well as rights recognized in the Declaration Rights of Human Rights Defenders and marks the Indian state’s failure to create conditions to ensure the enjoyment of all human rights and freedoms.