Disappeared don’t vanish

No family can forget its missing or disappeared member. And, there are thousands of families looking for their loved ones who disappeared mostly from the custody of the government forces and sometimes were taken away by ‘unknown’ mostly masked gunmen never to return.

In every conflict, whenever unmarked and mass graves of unknown and unidentified persons have been found, their connection was also found with disappearances. So, the phenomenon of enforced disappearances and unmarked graves points to a condition in which governments have been complicit in suspending human rights by suspending law itself and by condoning actions of armed forces not justifiable in any international law.

In that sense, no expectation of justice can be had from the system that allows the horrendous practice of disappearing citizens.

The struggle of the relatives of the disappeared in Kashmir is not just for closure. It also is not just about finding out or being told by the authorities about what happened to those disappeared after plucking them out of their families. Restitution cannot replace justice.

The protests and appeals of by the mothers, fathers, brothers, wives and children of the disappeared have all along hit a wall and they have found themselves pitched against an unmoving justice delivery system. One that has mostly failed to even acknowledge and fix responsibility for the thousands of enforced disappearances reported from across Kashmir. The protesting families have in fact been slowly pushed out of the justice delivery system available to them.

"The available system has proved incapable, even unwilling to move for justice. The reason perhaps is that it is part of the perpetrating machinery. It clearly is a case of the aggrieved being forced to seek justice from the system that may be complicit in the crime"

The system has already proved incapable or even unwilling to move for justice. The reason perhaps being that the same system is a part of the perpetrating machinery. So, it clearly appears to be a case of the aggrieved party being forced to seek justice from the system that has so callously allowed the crimes in the first place and may be complicit as well.

In that sense the relatives of the disappeared persons, as also the disappeared themselves, have been effectively pushed out of the realm of justice. The natural course of justice demands that the cases of enforced disappearances are sent to a higher realm of seeking justice, a different system outside the influence of the one which has allowed the phenomenon under its supervision.

Such a process can only begin when a neutral and technically competent international organization is allowed to investigate the unmarked graves. Till then the intention of delivering justice cannot be established.

[editorial-Kashmir Reader-Aug 5, 2012]