Violent Deaths and Enforced Disappearances During the Counterinsurgency in Punjab, India
A Preliminary Quantitative Analysis
January 26, 2009
♦ The data collected by the local Tribune newspaper and the CCDP show that reported enforced disappearances, extrajudicial executions, and encounter killings shifted from being almost exclusively concentrated in Amritsar district to being dispersed throughout almost all districts of the state of Punjab after 1992. This dispersal suggests that human rights violations were not random acts of violence but rather part of a specific plan or set of widespread practices used by security forces during the counterinsurgency.
♦ The information reported by the Tribune shows that few security officers were reported to have been killed during "encounters" and that instead these incidents, on average, involved a lone killing of an alleged "militant" or a "civilian," consistent with qualitative findings that reported encounters were often faked. The observed correlation between reported lethal human rights violations and reported militant encounter deaths is also consistent with the phenomena of "fake encounters."
♦ As state violence increased substantially after the beginning of Operation Rakshak II in November 1991, notably fewer bodies of the disappeared and extrajudicially executed were recovered by the next of kin compared with the period prior to 1991. In the period after 1991, the NHRC data also acknowledges a notable increase in mass "illegal cremations." This correlation suggests that these two phenomena are driven by a shift in state violence towards large-scale lethal human rights violations coupled with mass cremations.