Mass grave, Baramulla District.
The official account, related by the Indian and Jammu and Kashmir administration and security apparatus, states that the dead buried in the unmarked graves are unequivocally “foreign militants/terrorists.” The perception in Kashmir is different. Hundreds and thousands of people have lost a loved one -- a brother, a son, a father, a husband, with the latter leading to the prevalence of “half widows,” women whose husbands are missing but not confirmed dead.
Human rights organisations have repeatedly criticised the culture of forced disappearances in Kashmir, maintaining that a majority of those killed were targeted in “fake encounters” -- a term used to refer to the police or armed forces killing suspects when they are either in custody or are unarmed, and then claiming to have shot them in self-defence.
Stories of disappearances, encounters, death and violence characterises every day life in Kashmir. Here are some personal accounts from Kashmir.