Listen to the families of the disappeared

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In Jammu and Kashmir, the region that has been engulfed in the conflict for the last several decades, the absence of justice has been an issue for thousands of families. The fight for justice has been mainly delayed in human rights violation cases. One of the concerning issues has been the people, who have disappeared in the last three decades of the armed conflict. Most of these cases have either not been acknowledged or found to be dead.

The families of these missing people have been waiting for justice and for that their journey led to the formation of the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP). The group was formed by human rights defenders, including Parveena Ahangar, whose own son is part of the long list of the disappeared persons. The APDP has, over the years, protested against the disappearances and other human rights violations in Kashmir. But largely, they have demanded the whereabouts of their kin. The government has not dealt with this issue humanely and no proper response has been given to these families, mainly elderly parents, who have been sitting in a park in the city center every month with placards reading “Where are our sons?”.

It is the right of citizens to protest and find out where the missing have vanished into thin air. On the other hand, it is the government of the land that has to make sure that the affected citizens are given a proper hearing, heard, and delivered justice. But in Kashmir, over the last three decades, since this issue has been highlighted, successive governments have not paid any heed.

The current administration in Jammu and Kashmir, and the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) government in New Delhi, has an opportunity to give closure to these families rather than hounding them for their voice. The investigations against these organizations shouldn’t be a vendetta for their work but the government should address the core issue of why they first came into existence. 

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