Majority of disappeared persons in Kashmir innocent: Study

A study on families of disappeared persons (DPs) in Jammu and Kashmir has thrown up some startling data: more than 72 per cent of those who disappeared after being picked up by security forces or militants in the last 23 years were innocent civilians.

The term ‘DPs’ is used to describe those people who were picked up from their homes or other places in the presence of witnesses, family members or friends, on suspicion of being militants by security forces or by separatists on suspicion of being police informers and were never seen again.

The study, titled ‘Disappeared Persons and Conditions of their Families in Kashmir’, was supervised by renowned sociologist B A Dabla and supported by the J&K chapter of Action Aid International.

The study encompasses over 700 cases of DPs. It says the majority of DPs, that is 99.84 per cent, were males and usually the sole earners for their families. Most of them (83.33 per cent) were in the age group of 21 to 35 and 37.14 per cent of them were married.

Although the disappeared were predominantly from the Muslim community, Hindus and Sikhs formed 0.75 per cent of the DPs. But 22.42 per cent of the DPs had militant affiliations while a majority of them (72.72 per cent) were innocent civilians, the study claims.

Dependants are known as half-widows and half-orphans as in the absence of their bodies, the existing legal system is unable to declare the wives as widows or the children as orphans.

“In the absence of the male authority in the families of the DPs, loss of patriarchal authority has resulted in social disorganisation,” said Dabla, principal investigator of the study.

In addition, the study reveals that social segregation and taboos attached to the families of DPs have given rise to health problems such as hyper vigilance, fallback, sleeplessness, nightmares, trauma and other emotional complications.

“Over 42 per cent of the respondents of our study admitted they are experiencing nightmares,” Dabla said.

The major implication of the psychological problems among members of DP’s families has been drug addiction (23 per cent).

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