"Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong; they are the ones to attain felicity".
(surah Al-Imran,ayat-104)
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Ahmad Kashmiri


To mark the international day of the disappeared persons a seminar was conducted on 30th August 2009, in a local hotel at Srinagar by the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP). The seminar was held in two sessions. The title of first session for deliberation was, “Half Widows and Orphans a Way Forward in Islamic Jurisprudence”. Whileas the title of discussion for the second session was, “The International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and the Phenomenon of Disappearances in J&K”.  Renowned journalist, Zahir-Ud-Din who was conducting the proceedings of the first session, in his welcome talk disclosed that even the well established social organizations/NGO’s did not entertain half widows and half orphans for rehabilitation or help for the reason that there were no provisions in the constitution of these organizations to recognize half widows and half orphans. Two Muslim jurists (Muftis), Grand Mufti of J&K, Mufti Bashir-Ud-Din and Mufti Yaqoob gave lectures on the issue Half Widows and Orphans a Way Forward in Islamic Jurisprudence. Grand Mufti of J&K, Mufti Bashir-Ud-Din recalled his childhood and said that in 1947 too such cases of enforced disappearances would come to his father for shariah instructions. Both the Muftis briefly deliberated on and answered the questions putforth by the audience regarding the issues of matrimony (Nikah) and inheritance of the widows and orphans. Since it is not suitable to present the details of these issues here in this write up, however, regarding a disappeared husband it was said that he can be declared dead after four years of his disappearance and then his widow can remarry after an interval of four months and ten days but in case of the inheritance and heritage (Warasat) 90 years wait is mandatory.

 Talking on the issue of the help and support of the downtrodden sections of the society, Mufti Bashir-Ud-Din told that in this regard the Muslims of Kashmir lag far behind while as the gap has been filled by “other people”. He warned that if the spread of Christianity and Mirzayiat was not curbed in time the Muslims of the valley, in near future, would turn into minority! 

In the second sitting of the seminar eminent scholars and intellectuals made speeches and discussed concerns of the topic, “The International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and the Phenomenon of Disappearances in J&K”.

 The moods of the people in audience, with tears trickling down, turned tendered when Dr Altaf in his peculiar style pronounced on the possible circumstances of the disappeared persons. He said that the dependents of the disappeared persons are in terrible situation because they don’t know about their forcibly disappeared persons that whether they were alive or dead. And if they were alive how was their physical, mental and psychological condition or if they were dead, how did they die? By natural death or they were killed (were they forcibly, rolled down the mountain, drowned or fired upon) and then, were their funeral rites performed or not? Dr. Altaf told that unfortunately there were no answers to these questions. He said that the height of the things is that India too is a signatory of the document of international resolution for disappeared persons! Dr Altaf remembered one of his patients, Farooq Ahmad, who had been under his treatment for kidney trouble, that how he was disappeared after his arrest and then his (patient’s) father would come to Dr. Altaf and ask him that who would be giving medicine to Farooq!

Renowned intellectual and the noted human rights activist of India Dr. Gavtum Navlkha,  in his impact making speech, said that to the forcibly disappearances happening in Kashmir, now twenty years have passed   and for this crime he feels ashamed for being an Indian. Whenever this issue is raised nobody in India takes it serious! He revealed that in the year 2007 the General Assembly of United Nations passed a resolution which emphasizes that the forced disappearances should not happen and 50 countries including India have signed on the treaty. According to this international law the relatives of the arrested person are to be informed immediately and an FIR is to be lodged by the police within 24 hours.  He said that Kashmir issue (dispute) was recognized by UN in 1948 for right to self determination. Dr. Gavtum Navlkha said that APDP had demanded a fair probe into the enforced disappearances but it has not been responded by the govt till date. He said though Home Department has recorded 3428 cases of disappearances but yet there has been no investigation in this regard, neither, the records have been made public! He said that people of Kashmir should not forget this thing that killing, enforced disappearances and such other tactics were employed to curb the freedom movement. He insisted kashmiris that they should not exhaust but keep high intent.

Admiring the struggle of APDP, Dr.  Mubarak told that when atrocities increase, hatred is borne and it erupts in one way or the other way. He reproached the govt for that why it was not providing the details of facts of disappearances despite the much hype of Right to Information Act. He said that even if Bhim Singh too has revealed that the disappeared persons have been kept in some high-walled prison in Jammu, then why not the govt is initiating the investigation? Dr.Mubarak heaved that the pain of the sufferers of the disappeared persons can not be realized by others because the burning sensation is felt where the fire is set. He summed up the pain and hurting of the sufferers in a kashmiri verse, “ Yele Janane Ralem, Ade Balem Dile Bemaro” .

Tears trickled down the eyes of the audience when a student of fourth class readout his tale. Saqib Tariq Rather named this half-orphan revealed that his father, Nazir Ahmad was arrested in 2002 and his whereabouts are not known to them till date. He said that at the time of the arrest his father told, “I will come back and call you then”. Saqib told that he has been struck–off from his school as the family could not manage his school fee from the meager income his mother is earning at a knitting centre.

Giving the data of disappearances, APDP president, Parvez Imroz told that the govt’s claim that the number of disappearances in J&K is 3428 was not true. He told that the number of disappearances in J&K is about ten thousand and the number of sufferers is about 3 lacs with 1500 half-widows and thousands of half-orphans. He revealed that Kashmir with a figure of 10,000 disappearances topped the list in the world! Whileas the number of disappearances was1286 in Indonesia, 293 in Thailand and 800 in Nepal. Talking on the rehabilitation of half-widows and half-orphans, Parvez Imroz told that in Argentina the sufferer (family) of the disappeared person is given compensation from the very first day of the disappearance and here even if someone is meagerly helped by the govt but it is with hype and boast. He said that the issue of enforced disappearances being too grave but yet the govt was not starting any investigation. He said that in the regime of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed some MLA had raised this issue in the State Assembly upon which Muzzafar Hussain Beigh had replied that State Human Rights Commission had been set up already for the purpose. Parvez imroz told that infact the credibility of SHRC can be imagined from the fact that its head Justice Mir had resigned for that according to him it was a useless institution.

This author putforth a suggestion that if it was true that the established welfare organizations did not consider the half-widows and half-orphans for help and rehabilitation, the heads of these organizations/ NGO’s  particularly Those of Sakhawat Center J&K, J&K Yateem Foundation and J&K Yateem Trust must be invited to discuss this grim concern at length so that the remedy could be worked out

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