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Kashmir's missing children
A M Sofi in Srinagar
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March 07, 2007 10:51 IST
Last Updated: March 07, 2007 11:32 IST

Shaheena Guru still remembers that June day in 1994, when she was standing at a bus stop in Srinagar with her 24-year-old brother Abdul Hameed.

Sub-inspector Vinod of the Border Security Force's 30th battalion came and took Abdul away. Abdul has not been seen again.

"It is worse than death. It's a trauma that we live with everyday. In the case of death, you are convinced that the person is no more. But disappearance makes the situation unbearable when you think the person is somewhere but never to be seen", sobs Shaheena.

For more than 12 years, she tried her best to locate Abdul, who used to work in a court as the agent of a lawyer, but without success.

Shaheena is just one among the many Kashmiris whose family members have been missing and are alleged to have become victims of fake encounter killings by security forces.

Early this month, a south Kashmir carpenter Abdul Rehman Padder was taken away by the cops and was later killed in a fake encounter.

The Jammu and Kashmir government has asked all police stations and criminal investigation department centres to update the list of missing persons in their jurisdiction to facilitate early investigation of all such cases.

The killing of innocent people in fake encounters has triggered a wave of protests against custodial disappearances in the Kashmir valley with protesters demanding that their children be found or declared dead.

While the government maintains that 1,017 youth are missing since the break of militancy in 1989-90, the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons claims at least 10,000 persons have disappeared since 1989 in the state.

After the growing outcry over the issue, the government has promised to look into all such cases.

The protests against missing kin are not limited to Srinagar. Daily protest demonstrations are being held in every district, tehsil and village.

The Association for Parents of Disappeared Persons led by Parveen Ahanger had threatened self-immolation if the government failed to provide information about their kin within a month.

"We will set ourselves on fire in Lal Chowk in the heart of the city if the government does not provide us information about our wards within a month," Parveen, a resident of Batmaloo locality of central Srinagar, told PTI.

She said the members of the association were upset over the silence of successive state governments towards their plight.

The APDP demanded a probe into disappearance of the people since 1989. "We demand a probe under the Commissions of Inquiry Act headed by a judge acceptable to the families of the 10,000 disappeared persons," a spokesman of the Association said.

Referring to the recent statement of Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad to probe the disappearances, the spokesman alleged that it is a delaying tactic.

The spokesman said mass graves have been found across the state where unidentified bodies are lying.

The spokesman claimed these mass graves are mostly located in the vicinity of the various army and SOG camps.


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