Independent People’s Tribunal to collect data on Enforced Disappearances and extra-judicial executions in the last decades in Pujab

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Amritsar: The Independent People’s Tribunal (IPT), an outfit of The Punjab Documentation and Advocacy Project (PDAP) in collaboration with Human Rights Law Network, Committee for Co-ordination on Disappearances in Punjab, Lawyers for Human Rights International, the Punjab Human Rights Organisation, Khalra Mission Organisation, Sikhs for Human Rights and many other NGO’s and activists are holding a two-day Independent People’s Tribunal (IPT) on the issues of enforced disappearances, fake encounters and two decades of the denial of justice and accountability in Punjab.

Family members of youths killed during the militancy period, in Amritsar on Saturday. tribune photo

The Independent People’s Tribunal (IPT) will collect information on extra-judicial executions and enforced disappearances during the militancy era to the Supreme Court.

Advocate H S Cheema addressing the proceedings of Independent People’s Tribuna

The IPT panel which held the proceeds today at Amritsar comprised Justice A K Ganguly (Retired Judge Supreme Court of India & Former Chairman of the West Bengal Human Rights Commission), Justice Suresh (Retired Judge, Bombay High Court),  Colin Gonsalves (Senior Supreme Court Lawyer & Director, Human Rights Law Network), Bibi Paramjit Kaur Khalra (KMO, Wife of Jaswant Singh Khalra), Kavita Srivastava (National Convener, People’s Union for Civil Liberties), Soni Sori (Tribal Activist & Human Rights Defender, Chattisgarh), Tapan Bose (Secretary General of South Asia Forum for Human Rights and documentary film maker) and Parveena Ahanger (Chairperson of Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons, Kashmir).

The Punjab mass disappearances during the Punjab conflict have not received the importance and attention they deserve. An overwhelming number of victim’s voices have never been heard in the public domain. The majority have been awaiting basic acknowledgement, accountability and redress. In a tiny minority of cases, which could be pursued through the Courts, the victims have been grounded down by the endless facades of litigation.

Senior SC lawyer and Director, Human Rights Law Network, Colin Gonsalves, said, a collective case of such executions and disappearances would be prepared in the next six months and it would be filed in the apex court. After the verdict of the SC in a similar case in Manipur, hope for the affected families of Punjab for justice has rekindled.

Retired SC Judge AK Ganguly, said, it was disappointing that the courts did not take notice of human rights violations in Punajb at that time. Such violations were undergoing in Manipur, Chattisgarh, and Jammu and Kashmir.

Groups of victims from these states must approach the judiciary to direct the governments concerned to reform its working, he added.

Advocate Barjinder Singh Sodhi from Patiala, who is pursuing such cases, said justice has not been delivered in the case of the cremating 2,097 unidentified bodies and investigation was started only in 30 cases.

The organisations today came together to form the IPT to discuss – Punjab Disappeared: On extra judicial executions and enforced disappearances during days of terrorism’ for two days starting today.

Family members of about 400 affected families from Gurdaspur district participated and narrated their cases.

IPT moderator Satnam Singh Bains said they will hear testimonials of hundreds of forgotten victims.

Human rights activists from Manipur and Kashmir valley sought repeal of the Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA).

Activists of Punjab Documentation and Advocacy Project (PDAP), Human Rights Law Network, Committee for Co-ordination on Disappearances in Punjab, Lawyers for Human Rights International, Punjab Human Rights Organistion, Khalra Mission Organisation, Sikhs for Human Rights and others took part in the deliberations.

The IPT aims to dispel the fear psychosis which shroud such discussions through critical analysis, meaningful discussion and a constructive approach as to what can be done through a distinguished panel of retired judges, human rights activists, lawyers, media and others who have advanced the cause of truth, justice and accountability.

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