On the occasion of International Human Rights Day, sit-ins and demonstrations were held across Kashmir valley Tuesday to protest the human rights abuses, allegedly at the hands of Indian forces, during more than two-decade-old bloody conflict.
The organizers of Haqeeqat-e-Kashmir – a parallel concert held earlier this year to oppose conductor Zubin Mehta’s Shalimar Garden performance – Tuesday commemorated International Human Rights Day at a park in Srinagar, summer capital of Indian-administered Kashmir.
Hundreds, including activists, survivors and kin of people who have disappeared allegedly in the custody of Indian forces, and civil society members took part in the sit-in at the park. The victims held placards in their hands demanding whereabouts of their dear ones.
According to various activists, around 8000 people have disappeared, most of them in the custody of government forces, since the violent uprising began in 1989 against the Indian rule.
The government figures, however, keep on varying and according to the latest figures, around 3000 people have been reported missing – a mild term used for enforced disappearances.
The next to the kin of these men have been demanding their whereabouts by holding sit-ins every month at Partap Park in Lal Chowk in the summer capital.
The survivors maintain that by not telling whether their loved ones are still alive or dead, they have been forced to endure insurmountable pain.
Coalition of Civil Society (CCS) – a group campaigning for the rights of these people had organised the programme.
Among these people were hundreds of women who are referred to as Half-widows as they don’t know whether their husbands are still living or dead.
By not letting them know whether their loved ones are dead or alive, they say, their pain will never subside. They wear headbands saying ‘Stop Disappearances” and hold placards with messages like: Where are our loved ones? Tell us if they are dead or alive.
The programme began half an hour past noon today. Policemen had already sealed the park, apparently to prevent any large-scale protests.
These men suspect that their loved ones might have been buried in unknown unmarked graves spread across the beautiful landscape of the valley.
Braving winter chill, many of these women travelled to the venue from far off places in the northern and southern parts of the valley.