A new report reveals the human cost of suspending constitutional rights in Punjab, India from 1984 – 1995.
Ensaaf and the Benetech Human Rights Data Analysis Group (HRDAG) released a report this week presenting verifiable quantitative findings on mass disappearances and extrajudicial executions in the Indian state of Punjab, contradicting the Indian governmentâ€™s portrayal of the Punjab counterinsurgency as a successful and “humane” campaign.
It presents empirical findings suggesting that the intensification of counter-insurgency operations in Punjab in the early 1990s was accompanied by a shift in state violence from targeted lethal human rights violations to systematic enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions, accompanied by mass “illegal cremations.”
Indian security officials have dismissed claims of human rights violations as unavoidable “aberrations” during the counterinsurgency against alleged terrorists in Punjab from 1984 to 1995.
“This report challenges explanations by Indian security forces for enforced disappearances and extra-judicial executions using more than 20,000 records from independent sources which have been analyzed using statistical methods,” said Romesh Silva, a demographer at HRDAG and co-author of the report.
Human rights groups have collected extensive qualitative evidence about the types of abuses committed by Indian security forces and the impunity that persists in Punjab. Until now, human rights groups have lacked the capacity to conduct quantitative research to analyze these violations and definitively challenge explanations put forward by the Indian government. This report uses quantitative methods to scientifically demonstrate the implausibility that these lethal human rights violations are random or minor aberrations as suggested by Indian officials.
The strong correlation found between lethal human rights violations and overall lethal violence across time and space supports the conclusion that enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions were part of a specific plan or widespread practice used by security forces during the counterinsurgency.
The report further demonstrates that when human rights violations increased dramatically after 1991 and fewer families were able to recover the bodies of their loved ones, “illegal cremations” acknowledged by the Indian National Human Rights Commission also increased.
“Given the empirical findings suggesting systematic abuses in Punjab, the government can no longer deny the facts while using the rhetoric of national security. The public is now equipped to challenge the governmentâ€™s false narrative, and demand the vindication of survivorsâ€™ rights to truth, justice, and reparations.”
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Filed in: Civil liberties,India,South Asia,Terrorism