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Our Successes

Over the past five years, Ensaaf has made notable achievements in its work to end impunity and achieve justice for mass state crimes in India, including conducting innovative documentation projects, releasing groundbreaking reports, advancing key cases through critical litigation support, and engaging international experts.

April 2004 Ensaaf begins work.
June 2004 Ensaaf releases a report analyzing 1000s of government papers concerning massacres of Sikhs: Twenty Years of Impunity: The November 1984 Pogroms of Sikhs in India.

“Ensaaf’s courageous work gives a voice to the disappeared and killed in Punjab, and proves that a few dedicated individuals can challenge powerful forces of impunity and hold them to account.”

— Brad Adams, Asia Director at Human Rights Watch.
May/June 2005 Ensaaf partners with Nobel-prize winning Physicians for Human Rights and Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture on in-depth torture and trauma study in Amritsar, Punjab.
July 2005 On the eve of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to the US, Ensaaf publishes an op-ed in the Boston Globe, “The Legacy of India’s Counter-terrorism”.
October 2005 Ensaaf releases a report examining recent abuses committed from May to June 2005 as part of a government crackdown on an alleged revival of terrorism in Punjab.

“Ensaaf is doing today in Punjab, what others had given up, bringing hope to victims and challenging perpetrators through critical legal inputs.”

— Rajvinder S. Bains, Punjab human rights attorney
October 2005 Physicians for Human Rights and Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture intervene in the Punjab mass cremations case by submitting their expert report to the NHRC1.
November 2005 A criminal court convicts 6 Punjab policemen for the illegal detention and murder of human rights defender Jaswant Singh Khalra. Ensaaf provided critical legal support.
May 2006 Ensaaf Co-founders receive the Echoing Green Fellowship award, recognized as among the world’s most exceptional emerging leaders working to spark social change.
August 2006 Ensaaf releases Khalra’s last speech made before an international audience.
September 2006 Ensaaf works with attorney RS Bains to file a High Court case against KPS Gill, calling on the government to prosecute him for his role in Khalra’s murder.
January 2007 Ensaaf releases a summary booklet on the Punjab mass cremations case, India Burning the Rule of Law.
February 2007 Ensaaf and Human Rights Watch publish joint a op-ed in The Asian Age.
March 2007 Ensaaf releases the second edition to Twenty Years of Impunity, examining developments since the Nanavati Commission.
October 2007 The High Court upholds the convictions of 5 police officers for the illegal detention and murder of Khalra, and enhances sentences to life imprisonment.
October 2007 Ensaaf and Human Rights Watch release a joint report analyzing impunity for Punjab abuses and providing a framework for redress.
November 2007 Ensaaf meets with the Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances in Geneva following a joint submission with international human rights groups.
October 2008 Ensaaf participates in the inaugural conference of the India-wide anti-impunity project organized by the South Asia Forum for Human Rights, participating as the Punjab lead and international consultant.
January 2009 Ensaaf and the Benetech Human Rights Data Analysis Group release a report presenting verifiable quantitative findings demonstrating the implausibility that lethal human rights violations in Punjab were random or minor aberrations.
January 2009 United Nations report incorporates allegations presented by Ensaaf on disappearances and mass cremations in Punjab, informing the Government of India that it has an ongoing duty to thoroughly and impartially investigate the disappearances.
July/August 2009 Ensaaf completes the largest disappearances and extrajudicial executions documentation effort in Punjab in nearly a decade, conducting approximately 1,000 interviews in 6 weeks.
September 2009 Following a successful Right to Information Act request, Ensaaf procures 30,000 legal records from the National Human Rights Commission concerning the Punjab mass cremations case.
November 2009 Ensaaf launches an ad campaign in San Francisco's Bay Area Rapid Transit system, which represents the first time ads on human rights abuses in India have been viewed by riders in any transit system in the U.S.
November 2009 TIME Magazine interviews Ensaaf for an expert opinion on the November 1984 pogroms, and thrice quotes Ensaaf in their published article, "India's Anti-Sikh Riots: Waiting for Justice." The article is #1 on Time.com's Most Emailed List for almost 2 days.
November 2009 San Jose Mercury News publishes Ensaaf's op-ed, highlighting the continuing impact of impunity for gross human rights violations in India, as well as its relevance to the U.S.
November 2010 Ensaaf lends Sikh Research Institute its expertise on human rights in Punjab, helping shape the content of a lesson plan on Operation Bluestar targeted to middle school students.
October 2011 Marking the 16th anniversary of Khalra's murder, Ensaaf and Khalra Mission Organisation launch "Challenge the Darkness," a social media campaign designed to draw attention to impunity for human rights abuses in Punjab.
January 2011 Ensaaf and REDRESS make a joint submission to the Universal Periodic Review on mass cremations, enforced disappearances, and extrajudicial killings carried out in Punjab, India during the 1980s and 1990s.
November 2011 Ensaaf and REDRESS transmit a joint submission to the UN's Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review highlighting India's failure to redress the mass state crimes in Punjab, and presenting key recommendations to ensure accountability.
November 2011 Aimed at mobilizing key stakeholders, Ensaaf—in Partnership with the New Media Advocacy Project—release a series of advocacy videos showcasing survivors’ determination to learn the true fate of their loved ones, as well as the continuing emotional and financial impact the abuses have had on families.
November 2011 The Supreme Court upholds the convictions of 5 police officers for the illegal detention and murder of Khalra. Ensaaf provided key litigation support to the case at various stages.
November 2012 Ensaaf launches the Decade of Disappearances Art Contest, bringing fresh artistic talent to focus on Punjab human rights issues from 1984 to 1995.
March 2013 On the 25th anniversary of India’s suspension of the right to life in Punjab, the Christian Science Monitor publishes an op-ed article by Sukhman Dhami, Co-Founder and Co-Director of Ensaaf.
May 2013 Ensaaf’s First Annual 5K-Walk, “Appear for the Disappeared,” serves as a reminder of the need to achieve justice for those disappeared or unlawfully killed by Indian security forces from 1984 to 1995 in Punjab, India.
July 2013 Ensaaf releases a short film, Another Punjab Policeman Speaks Out About Human Rights Abuses, about a former Punjab Police officer Lakhwinder Singh’s experiences in the police force, where he witnessed his colleagues torture detainees.
October 2013 Ensaaf releases a new short film, The Last Killing, about a former policeman’s commitment to fight for justice for families of those who were unlawfully killed by his colleagues.
March 2014 At the Second Annual Ensaaf 5K-Walk, “Appear for the Disappeared,” participants commemorate those disappeared by Indian security forces from 1984 to 1995 in Punjab, and called for justice.
April 2014 Punjab Police whistleblower, Satwant Singh Manak, files an appeal to the Supreme Court of India in the case he is fighting on behalf of ten victim families whose loved ones were unlawfully killed by the Punjab Police. Supreme Court attorney Shadan Farasat, High Court attorney Rajvinder S. Bains, and Ensaaf drafted the special leave petition.
May 2014 Judge Poonam R. Joshi convicts three Punjab Police officers in the abduction and murder of Kuljit Singh Dhatt. Ensaaf provided litigation support in this case.
May 2014 The Daily Beast publishes an op-ed about Ensaaf’s short film, The Last Killing, written by Simran Jeet Singh, a Ph.D. at Columbia University.
May 2014 On the 30th Anniversary of Operation Bluestar, Ensaaf releases a short film, A Witness Among The Bodies: Surviving Bluestar, an eyewitness account of the Indian Army attack on the Harmandir Sahib Complex in Amritsar, Punjab, from June 1 to June 6, 1984.
June 2014 On the 30th anniversary of the Indian Army’s attack on the Harmandir Sahib Complex in Punjab, the BBC News publishes an article by Jastinder Khera, BBC journalist, highlighting Ensaaf’s work.
June 2014 The Los Angeles Times publishes an op-ed about India’s incomplete democracy, by Rahuldeep Gill, citing Ensaaf’s work.

Footnotes

  1. PHR responded in late 2006 to the NHRC’s rejection of their intervention and attack on credibility