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NEW VIDEO: Survivors Speak Up


Our powerful new advocacy video, produced by the New Media Advocacy Project, showcases survivors’ determination to learn the true fate of their loved ones, as well as the continuing emotional and financial impact these abuses have had on families. Kashmir Singh’s son, Harjit Singh, was just one of the thousands of people disappeared or unlawfully killed by Indian security forces between 1984 and 1995. In the video, Kashmir Singh tells us: “My case has been highlighted before, but I’m asking you to bring even more attention to it. So that the government hears our voices . . . I’m asking you to tell this story to the world.”

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  • Read the special appeal
  • Learn more about our Documentation program

The Dark Side of “India Shining”

Chaman Lal’s story is emblematic of the consequences of “national security” operations and policies that turn a blind eye to abuses. Although the vast majority of India’s counterinsurgency victims in Punjab were Sikh, impunity empowered its security forces to target anyone, including poor Hindu families like Chaman Lal’s. Above, watch him describe how the Punjab police abducted and murdered his son in a fake encounter, and how, one by one, the Supreme Court, the High Court, and the National Human Rights Commission, failed to give him any justice.

  • Donate to Ensaaf
  • Read the special appeal
  • Learn more about our Documentation program

Our Voices Matter

When Tarlok Singh and Balbir Kaur celebrated the birth of their son Surjit Singh, they could never have imagined he would live such a short life. Yet, in the midst of the violence that plagued Punjab during the “Decade of Disappearances,” Punjab Police killed Surjit Singh, like thousands of others, in a fake encounter. He was only 17.

In 2010, Ensaaf spoke to hundreds of other survivors in Punjab just like Surjit Singh’s family. Many of them had never before shared their experiences with civil society. Yet they welcomed us into their homes so that the lives and deaths of their loved ones could be documented and acknowledged.

Here, we’ve compiled photographs of several victims, shared by survivors, into a photo essay titled “Our Voices Matter”.

Thank You Video Tribute & Special Appeal

This summer, Ensaaf interviewed over 1,000 individuals – including hundreds of survivors – to capture stories of disappearances, unlawful killings, and torture in Amritsar during the Punjab counterinsurgency.

This ambitious achievement, which represents the largest deployment of human rights investigators in Punjab in over a decade, was only realized due to the financial support we received from supporters like you. As a small token of our thanks, we created a short video tribute to show our immense gratitude for the generosity and trust given to us by our donors.

Operation Blue Star: The Launch of a Decade of Systematic Abuse and Impunity

In June 1984, the Indian Army attacked Harmandir Sahib, popularly known as the Golden Temple, as well as 41 other gurudwaras (Sikh places of worship) throughout Punjab. The assault, codenamed “Operation Blue Star,” marked the beginning of a policy of gross human rights violations in Punjab that continues to have profound implications for the rule of law in India.

This brief photo essay includes photos from the assault itself, the Tribune (Chandigarh) and the BBC. The essay draws on information from the BBC and Chapter 1 of Ensaaf’s report Twenty Years of Impunity.

Podcast: New Ensaaf/HRDAG Statistical Analysis

Ensaaf and the Benetech Human Rights Data Analysis Group released a podcast in accompaniment to their joint report, Violent Deaths and Enforced Disappearances During the Counterinsurgency in Punjab, India

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 podcast briefly explains the context of the report and discusses our preliminary findings.  

Listen to the podcast.

Read the transcript.

Photo Essay: New Statistical Analysis Points To Widespread Human Rights Violations

Ensaaf and the Benetech Human Rights Data Analysis Group released a photo essay in accompaniment to their joint report, Violent Deaths and Enforced Disappearances During the Counterinsurgency in Punjab, India. 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 Extrajudicial Killing of Kulwant Singh: “The boy was begging with folded hands.”


This video includes testimony about how the Punjab police detained and beat an unarmed Sikh youth, pulled his hair and chased him as he begged for his life, and then shot him at point blank range on July 8, 1990 in Mohali, Punjab. Eyewitnesses describe how the police staged the body, placed a gun in the victim’s hand, acknowledged the innocence of the boy to survivors and Member of Parliament Bimal Kaur Khalsa, but then gave a false statement to the press that the victim was a criminal. The footage was shot in 1990 by Baljit Kaur of the Movement Against State Repression.

Photo Essay: Protecting the Killers-A Policy of Impunity in Punjab, India

Ensaaf and Human Rights Watch released a photo essay (modified from original) in accompaniment to their 123-page report, Protecting the Killers: A Policy of Impunity in Punjab, India. Watch the photo essay here.