SRINAGAR: A 70-year-old woman, who was at the forefront of a campaign to seek whereabouts of thousands of people subjected to enforced disappearance in the last three decades of turmoil in the Valley, passed away today in central Kashmir's Budgam.

Rehti Begum, one of the trustees of Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) in Kashmir which has been seeking justice for 'missing' persons, passed away today morning due to a massive heart attack at her residence in Cheke Kawoosa Narbal of Budgam district in central Kashmir.

Her son, Mohammed Ramzan, was allegedly abducted by the CRPF men in 1990 from their residence and subjected to enforced disappearance, a phenomenon that lays at the heart of the turmoil in Kashmir. After the APDP was formed in 1994, she would regularly attend demonstrations to seek the whereabouts of her son.

“Her dedication to the cause of enforced disappearances remained undeterred until her last breath. Even though her search for her son remains unfulfilled, the APDP pledges to carry on with her resolve and take her search to its fruitful end,” Parveena Ahanger, APDP chairwoman, said.

The association holds a monthly demonstration in Srinagar's Pratap Park which is attended by hundreds of family members of the victims of enforced disappearances. “She used to make sure to attend the demonstration every month and was hopeful of getting justice for her son. Unfortunately she died with that hope,” Parveena said.

The APDP chief said the struggle of justice for victims of enforced disappearances will be continued till the perpetrators are not held accountable, “APDP has lost the family members of some of the victims, who fought for their disappeared loved ones and kept their struggle alive until their last breath with dignity.”

According to independent human rights groups, more than 8000 persons have been subjected to enforced disappearance over the last three decades of turmoil in Kashmir. A majority of these cases have been blamed on security forces or armed groups working under the patronage of the government.

The discovery of mass graves some years ago in at least three areas of Kashmir had sparked a hope that the victims may finally get justice and their families, an honourable closure. However, after initial shock, the demand for DNA profiling of the corpses present in these graves got a quiet burial.