The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), which has negligible jurisdiction over rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir, has been able to register just 34 cases of disappearances of Kashmiris since 1993.
Parveena Ahangar, whose son has been missing from the Valley since 10 years, says atleast 8,000 kashmiris have disappeared since 1989.The commission disclosed the details related to human rights violations in J&K for the first time in a reply to a Right to Information ( RTI) application by Jamia Millia Islamia student Afroz Alam Sahil.
It confirmed that 20 cases of human rights violations by the armed forces since 1993 had been proved, from the total 388 such complaints received by the commission.
Fifty-two of the cases are still under process. In the RTI reply, the NHRC said: "A total of 34 cases under the head 'disappearances' have been registered since 1993.
And 18 cases of alleged fake encounters, 12 cases of death in police custody, nine cases of death in judicial custody, 24 cases of communal violence and 104 cases of women's exploitation have been registered." The commission also said that it recommended Rs 48.6 lakh as monetary relief for victims in the 20 proven cases of rights violations.
But it does not know if the money reached the families. "The NHRC only makes recommendations for monetary relief. The payment is made by the state or central government," it said.
Parveena Ahangar, however, is not satisfied with the figures given out by the NHRC. She says the numbers are far less than the actual violations and disappearances in the state.
Ahangar - whose son disappeared from the Valley over a decade ago - formed the Association of Parents of Disappeared People (APDP) in 1994 and organises a sit-in protest every month at Lal Chowk.
She alleged that even the J& K government was not consistent in the figures it gave out.
"Last August, the state government said in the assembly that 3,429 people had disappeared from J& K. But this March, the same Omar Abdullah government told the assembly that the figure was just 1,105 and that the ex- gratia had been paid to 530 families," she said.
"Now, the NHRC says it has records of just 34 disappearances and it has disposed of all the cases!" she added angrily.
The APDP's estimate is that at least 8,000 people have disappeared from the Valley since 1989. "We do not want the money...we want our children back.
Somebody - either the state or Centre - has to answer where all the missing disappeared," Ahangar said. A major reason for the NHRC's low figures for J& K human rights violations is that it does not have complete jurisdiction over the state and cannot issue notices or take suo motu cognisance of violations by the state police.
This means it can cover subjects under the central and concurrent lists of the Constitution - mainly violations by the central forces - and not under the state list in J& K. NHRC chairman K. G. Balakrishnan had recently said the government should decide on giving full jurisdiction to the commission in J& K. "It will be beneficial to the common people, who will have recourse to better redressal of grievances," he had said.
But till the government decides, the families who lost their dear ones will have to wait.