Srinagar, Jun 14: Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) and Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) welcome today’s important report by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Geneva.
This is the first report by the United Nations exclusively on Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan administered Kashmir.
After continually being denied access since 2016, the OHCHR has based this report (49 pages in total) on its remote monitoring of the situation on ground, with closer attention to the period of July 2016 to April 2018.
This report affirms that J&K requires special attention and is a signal to governments that the United Nations is closely monitoring the everyday violence and the role of the parties to the dispute. It is also an affirmation of the documentation work done for decades. Following the early UN Security Council resolutions, this report has deep symbolic value following years of silence by the United Nations.
Yet, this report remains connected to the historicity of the J&K conflict, and past UN Security Council resolutions, as it urges the governments to “respect the right of self-determination of the people of Kashmir as protected under international law” and favours dispute resolution through “meaningful dialogue that includes the people of Kashmir”.
The report ends with a series of recommendations, the most crucial of which is a call for an independent, international enquiry in the form of a “Commission of Inquiry” to be constituted by the UN Human Rights Council (inter-governmental body established by the United Nations to monitor human rights).
Commissions of Inquiry prove to be an effective tool for the United Nations and have been formed in the past to investigate allegations of violations of international human rights, international humanitarian law or international criminal law and make recommendations for corrective action based on their factual and legal findings (past examples include Palestine, Lebanon, East Timor and Syria).
In the absence of any fair and proper investigations in J&K to date, UN Human Rights Council constituted Commission of Inquiry would be an important intervention.
The report addresses key human rights issues, with a major focus on the role of Government of India in IaK. The report highlights the “widespread and serious human rights violations” committed primarily by Government of India and the state of virtually absolute impunity where, through examples, the role of the Supreme Court of India is questioned for not intervening in J&K related human rights cases. Violations range from crimes of extra-judicial executions and excessive force (including by use of pellet shotguns), enforced disappearances, sexual violence, torture, arbitrary detention (including through the use of the Public Safety Act, 1978) and other violations of basic human rights. The report notes the existence of unmarked and mass graves and recommends impartial and credible investigations, including though assistance of the international community. Military courts are unequivocally rejected as effective substitutes for civilian courts of justice in the case of crimes against civilians.
The call for a Commission of Inquiry – an international independent inquiry – is in keeping with past demands by JKCCS and APDP, in light of the unwillingness of Government of India to allow for functioning of any processes of justice and fair and proper investigations. In addition, past offers of international assistance (European Parliament in 2008 for the investigation of unmarked and mass graves) have been rejected. It is imperative that a Commission of Inquiry be instituted to: a) record the violence, b) document the role of State institutions, including the judiciary, in systemic denial of justice, and, c) ascertain State and individual responsibility as per international human rights, international criminal, and international humanitarian law.
JKCCS and APDP emphasize that this report must serve as a beginning of continued and sustained OHCHR attention on J&K. As an immediate measure:
OHCHR, on its own initiative, and endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council, continue to monitor the situation in J&K and seek unconditional access for on the ground investigations. Crucially, all parties of the dispute must continue to be held to international human rights, international criminal and humanitarian law standards.
UN Human Rights Council consider the instant OHCHR report (in the present regular session beginning on 18 June or in a special session) recognize the urgency of the situation, and immediately constitute a group of reputed experts in the form of a Commission of Inquiry and both Governments of India and Pakistan must grant them unconditional access. This will serve as a vital first step to deter the ongoing violence, secure the evidence of crimes, and result in a more permanent mechanism at the UN Human Rights Council in the form of an international expert as a Special Procedure to monitor the human rights situation in J&K.
Other UN bodies, including the Security Council, with greater powers, must also give renewed attention to the situation in J&K.
APDP’s 2019 Calendar: An old plea in a new year: Where are our loved ones you took?
Srinagar, Jan 15: For the third straight year, the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) Tuesday released a calendar reiterating the forced disappearances of the thousands of people during the last three decades of political conflict in Kashmir.
A group of people, longing for their snatched loved ones, displayed the calendar at Srinagar’s Pratap Park; their silence asking the same questions they have been asking for years now: How long do we wait? Where is our kin? Are they dead? Can we, at least, get their bodies back?
The title page of the calendar bears a moving illustration by the noted sketch-artist, Suhail Naqshbandi: A female clad in red pheran, half of her face mournful and weary, the other half worn down to bare bones as she holds a photo of the disappeared person she has been longing for. A few shades of dark and grey that look like a cloud form the background.
Inside are 12 leaves, each carrying a sketch of the disappeared person, with a brief bio of the person–where, when and in what circumstances the person was taken.
Among the parents of the disappeared ones is Ali Mohammad Dar from Noorpora Magam.
His 18-year-old son, Ghulam Mohiuddin, was picked up by the government forces in 1991, never to return.
Dar says the calendar made him realize that he was not the only one who lost his son.“There are hundreds of parents like me,” said Dar, whose forehead was strapped with a bandage as he had recently met with an accident.
Chairperson APDP, Parveena Ahanger—whose own son is among the victims of forced disappearance––said that coming out with the calendar was an attempt to keep alive the stories of the missing ones.
“There have been so many disappearances in Kashmir that two calendars could not feature them all. We released the third one and will continue to feature all others too in the coming years,” she said.
Parveena said that APDP was planning to send the calendars out of Kashmir too, especially to the educational institutions, so that the people and students outside the valley know about the tragedies that have befallen the families of the disappeared.“It has been 29 years now since our loved ones disappeared. I ask both the government of Jammu and Kashmir, and India that if they deny our beloved ones’ disappearances then where are they? At least, handover their dead bodies if they aren’t alive!” a teary-eyed Parveena pled.
Asked about the inquiry by High Court and State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) regarding the disappearances, Ahanger said: “Court (referring to judiciary) only does ‘inquiry’ and avoids our cases by directing them to SHRC. When court, which is the highest authority, is not able to deliver justice, what can we expect from SHRC?”
Parveena said she did not trust the politicians who “claim to help but in reality are interested in gaining power”. “I trust my Lord. We APDP) will continue this movement till our last breath and will ensure that none from the younger generation suffers like we did.”
APDP is an organization that was begun as a one woman endeavour.
Parveena, who had lost her son in the ‘90s, strived to mobilise and provide support to other such families, who had lost their loved ones to enforced disappearances.
Her aim: to put pressure on the authorities to investigate the estimated 8000-10,000 cases of involuntary and enforced disappearances in Kashmir.
Rajouri set to become J&K’s first district to fully comply with JJA norms
RAJOURI, JAN 15: Rajouri will soon become the first district in the State to be fully complying with all the laid down provisions of Juvenile Justice Act (JJA) and having all the structures and institutions provided under the Act.
This was stated in a meeting chaired by Chairperson Selection Committee, Justice (Retd) Hasnain Masoodi which was also attended by District Development Commissioner Rajouri, Aijaz Asad.
The Child Welfare Committee, Juvenile Justice Board, District Child Protection Unit and the Special Juvenile Police Unit are already in place in the district.
The district is in process of setting up Village Level Child Protection Committees (VLCPCs) and Block Level Child Protection Committees (BLCPCs) in accordance with rules/guidelines by February 15, 2019.
The setting up of VLCPCs and BLCPCs will give the necessary impetus to full implementation of Juvenile Justice Act in the district. It has been already announced that an effort would be made to have VLCPCs and BLCPCs in place in the State by March 31, 2019.
MD ICPS G A Sofi, SMD and Member Secretary ICPS would coordinate with District Administration and oversee the creation of proposed structures.
Meanwhile, Justice Masoodi accompanied by Members SCOC– Rajiv Khajuria, Dr. Rouf — and ICPS officers on a day-long visit to Rajouri, inaugurated two-day capacity building workshop for the Juvenile Justice stakeholders in collaboration with ‘Save the Children’.
Earlier, the meeting decided to explore the possibility of shifting CCI (Girls)/Nariniketan from the present rented building to any other suitable place. The meeting was informed that the District administration has already identified a plot of land measuring 15 kanal at Rajouri for construction of CCI for Girls which will be replete with all modern facilities.
Chairperson CWC Mohammad Iqbal Shawl was asked to coordinate with District Administration for prompt possession of identified land for CCI construction.
Congress will give top priority to trade, commerce and tourism: Mir
Jammu, Jan 15 : While speaking in a programme of Trade, Commerce & Tourism wing of Congress to access the difficulties, problems and ground realities of the people of this line ,which was participated by the representatives of that wing from the whole J&K state, G A Mir President PradeshCongress Committee who was Chief Guest on the occasion besides congratulating Rakesh Wazir for his new assignment as head of this wing of Congress for J&K State said that Trade, Commerce & Tourism would be the top priority of Congress if it comes to power in the next elections.
He said that Youth of the Country and J&K state in particular want employment and that cannot be generated until unless we focus our all energies for the revival of Trade, Commerce and more particularly the Tourism in our state which provides maximum job opportunities to the people of our state and which had got neglected miserably in the previous regime of BJP-PDP combine which in fact had no policy or concrete thinking with regard to that and this could be judged from the fact that Tourists which were there at its peak in J&K in 2012 when Congress led government was there in power in the state reached to the lowest level in last six years in 2017 when BJP-PDP government was in power and this downward trend is going on like that and as a result most of the people of the state became un employed and are now running for their survival.
He said that people of the state want jobs and not mere slogans and since the things were not tackled properly as a result leaving aside new jobs even the people who were working became un employed and thus it is very important that a concrete policy for the revival of Tourism which is decreasing with every passing day and as such revival of Industry, Trade & Commerce besides Tourism in the state is the need of hour which are major job providers in the state and can act as major source of livelihood of the people of the state.
Rakesh Wazir President Trade,Commerce & Tourism wing of Congress while speaking on the occasion besides thanking the organization for giving the responsibility of heading such an important wing of the party said that he will leave no stone un turned for the upliftment of Trade, Commerce & Tourism of the state because these are the back bones of economy and employment of any state and until unless focused approach is not adopted towards this sector employment cannot be generated and more particularly when state is passing through a turmoil and condition & situation of the state is becoming from bad to worse as for as arrival of Tourists, and coming of new industries and trade is concerned and thus consolidated approach towards these sectors with the help of all can only bring the things on track.
He further said that very soon with the active guidance, help and approval of the leadership this wing after having full state body, will have organization at district and then up to every small or big town or village level so that ways and means of employment are generated at every nook and corner of the state and proper policy and programme is chalked out with rightful and clear aim in mind.