End the culture of impunity, not just AFSPA: APDP
This is a press release from the ASSOCIATION OF PARENTS OF DISAPPEARED PERSONS
The Bund Amira Kadal, Srinagar – 190001, Jammu and Kashmir
28th October 2011
APDP feels that the recent announcement by the Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on the partial revocation of Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) from some areas of Jammu and Kashmir would be insignificant for improving the human rights situation and also for providing justice to those affected by the mindless violence by armed forces.
In Jammu and Kashmir, the 8000 people who were subjected to enforced disappearance have not disappeared because of the imposition of draconian laws like AFSPA, but due to an institutional policy of repression, where even the draconian laws were defied. AFSPA requires the arrested persons to be brought before the district magistrate within 24 hours, which ofcourse has never happened in Jammu and Kashmir.
The Ministry of Defence in case of army personnel and Ministry of Home in case of paramilitary forces can give the prosecution sanctions under AFSPA after the state Government applies for the same. According to the state Government prosecution sanctions against armed forces have been applied only in 50 cases since last 22 years. When in Jammu and Kashmir we have more than 8000 cases of enforced disappearances, thousands of cases of custodial killings and fake encounters, thousands of cases of rape and molestation and thousands of cases of torture etc; applying for sanctions for prosecution in only 50 cases speaks volumes about the seriousness shown by the State Government so far for protecting the human rights of people of Jammu and Kashmir. Unsurprisingly the sanction by Ministry of Defence has not been granted in any case so far.
Politicians are giving an impression that human rights violations will end by the revocation of AFSPA, which is a deliberate attempt to hoodwink the international opinion. The fact is that Jammu and Kashmir Police has been an equal partner in crimes committed on the people. The Jammu and Kashmir Police personnel also have been responsible for a huge number of disappearances.
The armed Village Defence Committees (VDC), Special Police Officials (SPO), and the counter insurgent government sponsored private militias like Ikhwan have also been responsible for perpetrating heinous crimes like disappearances. Which law allows the creation of these groups? Which law encourages them to perpetrate human rights abuses? Which law sanctions their impunity? It is the law of lawlessness.
Revocation of AFSPA from some areas would not help in ending the human rights abuses as the sense of immunity in the soldiers is not derived from laws but from the political culture of impunity, for which State Government and the Government of India are largely responsible.
Instead of this political performance, the government should help the processes of justice and help prosecute officials accused of disappearances. The mechanisms of justice which have been forced to not function by the state should be empowered to punish the guilty, which would be more meaningful for the family members of the disappeared.
We urge the Government of India to end the culture of impunity and not just AFSPA from Jammu and Kashmir.
Yasin Hassan Malik