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Did they vanish in thin air?

Picture: The foundation stone of the memorial for disappeared persons before it was removed by the forces; a grieved mother holding the picture of her disappeared son

Srinagar: It was again the occasion of sobs and sighs. The moment was the release of Did They Vanish In Thin Air? by Greater Kashmir Associate Editor Zahir-ud-Din. The book details about 140 cases of custodial disappearances in the Valley.

The book was released by veteran human rights activist and the chairman Public Commission on Human Rights (PCHR), Advocate Parvez Imroz.
Addressing the gathering, which included a large number of ‘half-widows’ and the parents of disappeared persons, Imroz said the disappearances have turned out to be worst cases of abuse against human dignity. "We have not been able to document and identify the cases of rights abuse at the level of institutions," he remarked while taking a dig at some politicians’ controversial speeches ignoring the cause of the disappeared persons.

Nasir Mirza, Reader Kashmir University’s Media Education Research Centre, criticized the media for what he termed criminal silence over the human rights abuses in the Valley. The Kashmir Bar Association president Nazir Ahmad Runga referred to the famous D K Basu vs State case in which the Supreme Court had directed a code of conduct for the prosecuting agencies to be followed while detaining a person. He said scant regard is being paid to law and various SC rulings by the security agencies operating here.

Thanking all those persons and groups who helped him in the compilation of the book, Zahir said it was a humble effort to address a violation of very large dimensions. He narrated a number of cases where the families were doling between hope and despair, where a mother was still hopeful of finding it—not her son but his grave. "Just a handful of the disappearance cases were documented in this form but the need is for more concerted efforts in this regard," Zahir summed up his observations.

The main feature of the function was an emotionally charged poem by a kid on the plight of the families of disappeared persons which literally brought the big gathering to tears. Meanwhile, in statement the Employees Joint Action Committee (EJAC) spokesman B A Ganai and Nisar Ali Mir have hailed Zahir for his efforts. EJAC has suggested conducting workshops and seminars in this regard to make it more practical. 

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