Ensaaf documents abuses to counter official denials and build evidence for accountability, conducting innovative projects and producing groundbreaking reports.
On Human Rights Day, Khalra Mission Organisation, the Punjab Human Rights Organisation, and Ensaaf released a new web-based human rights tool to help empower victims of government abuse to report their experiences at ReportPunjabPolice.org.
Punjab Documentation Project
Ensaaf has undertaken the largest initiative in the history of India to document disappearances and unlawful killings. This documentation process will establish the human toll of the violence in Punjab from 1984 to 1995 and will result in several thousand survivor interviews and photographs, and hundreds of hours of video footage.
Over the summer, more than 15 researchers and data entry staff participated in a major Ensaaf survey, interviewing hundreds of families of the disappeared or unlawfully killed in Punjab. This ambitious achievement, involving interviews of over 1,000 individuals, represents the largest deployment of human rights investigators in Punjab in over a decade. The staff underwent two weeks of rigorous training, followed by six weeks of long hours implementing the survey.
In a joint report published in 2009, Ensaaf and Benetech’s Human Rights Data Analysis Group presented verifiable quantitative findings scientifically demonstrating the implausability that lethal human rights violations were random or minor aberrations as stated by Indian officials. This analysis was based on over 21,000 records of deaths. Future research includes extending the analysis of existing data by matching and merging multiple, independent datasets, and collecting further qualitative data in order to clarify the total magnitude and patterns of violence throughout Punjab.
On October 18, 2007, Ensaaf and Human Rights watch released a 123-page report, “Protecting the Killers: A Policy of Impunity in Punjab, India,” photo essay, and video testimonials. The report examines the challenges faced by victims in pursuing legal accountability for human rights abuses perpetrated during the government’s counterinsurgency campaign and also proposes a comprehensive framework to address the institutionalized impunity that has prevented accountability in Punjab. The report is based on the analysis of thousands of legal records, news articles, and other documents, and dozens of interviews and meetings with survivors, lawyers, and NGOs.
Ensaaf’s report, “Twenty Years of Impunity: The November 1984 Pogroms of Sikhs in India,” analyzes thousands of pages of previously unavailable affidavits, government records, and arguments submitted to the 1985 Misra Commission, established to examine the Sikh massacres in Delhi, Kanpur, and Bokaro. The report reveals the systematic and organized manner in which state institutions and Congress officials perpetrated mass murder in November 1984 and later justified the violence in inquiry proceedings. The report applies the international law of genocide and crimes against humanity to the pogroms. In the second edition, Ensaaf articulates the failings of the Nanavati Commission and the Action Taken Report after a thorough consideration of the evidence at the government’s disposal. Preface by Barbara Crossette.
In 2005, Ensaaf partnered with the Nobel Prize-winning organization Physicians for Human Rights and the NYU/Bellevue Program for Survivors of Torture on a study that demonstrated that survivors of the disappeared and killed continue to suffer long-term physical and psychological trauma.
On October 5, 2005, Ensaaf released its report Punjab Police: Fabricating Terrorism through Illegal Detention and Torture, highlighting the continuing impact of impunity.