72 % Disappearance Victims Innocent Civilians: Study

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“Lack Of Support For Kin Spawns Mental, Emotional Turmoil; Delinquency”

SRINAGAR (ONS) – Ruing the lack of institutional support for their traumatized kin, a study here says that 72 per cent of the victims of enforced disappearances in the Jammu and Kashmir over the past 23 years were innocent civilians with no links whatsoever to militancy.

Titled ‘Disappeared Persons and the Condition of their Families in Kashmir,’ the study by sociologist BA Dabla involves around 700 cases, some discussed in detail, of people picked up by the forces on suspicion of being militants, and by militants on charges of being government informers, and never seen again.  

The exercise, supported by the J and K chapter of the Action Aid International, says that the majority (99.84 per cent) of the DPs (disappeared persons) were males and often the only bread-winners of their families.   

Most of them (83.33 percent) were in the age group of 21 to 35 and 37.14 percent of them were married.

Although the disappeared were predominantly from the Muslim community, Hindus and Sikhs formed 0.75 percent of the DPs in Kashmir.

But only 22.42 percent of the DPs had militant affiliations while a majority of them (72.72 percent) were innocent civilians, the study claims.

Dependants of the DPs 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.

“The resulting maladjustment, social isolation and segregation gave rise to deviance within these families and juvenile delinquency outside. Thus crime thrived and got a social basis,” he said.

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 percent of the respondents of our study admitted they are experiencing nightmares,” Dabla said.

The study reveals that families of DPs have been complaining of irritability, muscle tension, melancholy and aggressiveness.

“The problem of violent behaviour was quoted by 13.28 percent of the respondents,” Dabla said.

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

Also, an increase in diseases otherwise unknown to be associated with psychological complications has also been seen among the families of DPs.

“Respondents identified an increase in diabetes, vision impairment, hearing impairment, renal and gastric problemsbesides arthritis,” Dabla said.

In its conclusion, the study makes a strong case for improving the lot of the families whose dear ones disappeared due to one or the other reason.

“The primary reason for the social and economic deprivation of the family members, especially the wives and children called half-widows and half-orphans, is because they have no legal status and cannot claim rights as widows or inherit properties as orphans.

“After they landed in their present predicament, the members of these families have not received any positive and sympathetic response from either the state or society,” the study says.

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