Mothers seek whereabouts of missing sons

Srinagar, May 11, 2009: In Srinagar, on Mother’s Day the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) has said that United Nations must ask India to withdraw draconian laws that give impunity to its armed forces in Jammu and Kashmir and also prevail upon India so that it clears its stand on the fate of thousands of men subjected to enforced custodial disappearance in the past 20 years.
Parveena Ahanagar, the member of the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) who was leading a monthly sit-in of the parents of disappeared persons at Pratap Park in Srinagar, released the document which she submitted at the 86th Session of the United Nations Working Group on Involuntary Enforced Disappearances held in in Geneva in November r 26, 27, 2008.
APDP also called on WGIED to impress upon India the need for repeal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, Public Safety Act, Disturbed Areas Act “and other laws that enable impunity.”
The APDP submission urged the WGIED to ask India to ratify and implement the provisions of the International Convention for Protection of Persons from Enforced Disappearances (2007) and UN convention against torture, abolish all secret detention and interrogation centres, take immediate steps to protect family members of persons disappeared from intimidation and harassment by security forces, and HR Commissions to investigate crimes committed by the armed forces in compliance with international standards and norms.
The submission comprised six individual cases of disappearances in Kashmir. “The general submissions presented a brief account of the widespread prevalence of Enforced Disappearances in Kashmir and gave an overview of the Indian laws related to sanctions for prosecutions, and special laws like AFSPA which give armed forces extraordinary powers,” she said.
The document gives a brief account of the APDP’s meetings with several UN officials in Geneva. “In response to the efforts of the APDP the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay during her recent visit to India on March 24 has asked India to allow the UN Special Rapporteurs to visit occupied Kashmir as in the past two decades hundreds of disappearance cases have been reported in Kashmir,” the document reads.
“The High Commissioner has also called for repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act which allowed the security agencies to indulge in excesses.”
The document said that Pillay raised these issues during a press conference with Indian Home Minister P Chidambaram, where she reiterated her demand to allow UN officials on human rights to visit Kashmir.
The Association also accused the puppet authorities of failing to address the issue of “enforced disappearance of civilians in the custody of armed forces.”
The family members of the disappeared said “We don’t want jobs or money, but our children. We have been long waiting for justice, but the puppet regimes have failed to deliver it,” the members said.
Family members of several missing persons, mostly elderly men and women, participated in the peaceful protest holding placards demanding whereabouts of their dear ones. Holding placards, which read, “Where are our loved ones.”  "Remove impunity measures for perpetrators of enforced disappearances and those found guilty", "Where are our dear ones?", "Replace impunity with accountability" … the protesters were demanding the whereabouts of the people who have gone missing after being arrested by various  Indian troops and military or secret agencies operating in the Valley.
For God’s sake tell us where they are? Declare them dead if they have been killed, or hand them over to us if alive,” said the 70-year-old Azi of Tengpora whose son Mushtaq Ahmad Dar was disappeared in the custody of troops 10 years ago.
During its monthly sit-in, Parveena Ahanger said, “We don’t want any compensation from the authorities. Our demand is plain and simple: if our sons are alive, allow us to meet them and if they are dead, handover their bodies.
“Mother’s Day is a special occasion but for those whose sons are around. We are those ill-fated mothers who have lost everything. Our demand is that we should be provided the whereabouts of our sons which would be a great gift for all of us,” says Parveena Ahangar, leader t of the APDP.
Although, most of these mothers believe that they have lost their sons forever, there are some who feel that their dear ones are languishing in jails. “We expect the authorities to provide clues about our sons who are behind the bars,” say the anguished mothers.
Parveena and others like her said that there was no use in pursuing disappearance cases of their dear ones if there is no action at the end of the day. “I fought for 13 years but to no avail. The file sanctioning compensation in my favour has been missing since 1997 and since then there has been no clue,” says Parveena.
“We neither want compensation in the form of money nor jobs under the SRO-43. We just demand that our dear ones should be handed back to us,” say the mothers in one voice. They say they are suffering on account of psychological trauma and have also fallen prey to various ailments. “Most of us have to feed four or five children and the trauma of losing dear one haunts us all the time,” say the unfortunate mothers.
Mugla Begum, a mother of one Nazir Ahmad of Habba Kadal said that her lone son, Nazir Ahmad a government employee, left for his duty 12 years ago, but never returned. She said in the past 12 years she visited every nook and corner of the Valley to ascertain the whereabouts of her missing son but to no avail.
“My son was obedient and caring. After my husband divorced me, Nazir looked after me throughout the turbulent times,” Mugla said as she wept bitterly.  “Since he went missing I have no one left at home. Who’ll take care of me in this old age?” the weeping mother asked.
Speaking on the occasion, legal advisor of APDP, Advocate Hafizullah Mir said, “India should also ratify the UN Convention against enforced disappearance. The disappearances which took place in Kashmir, Punjab and North East should be probed by independent and credible commission.”