The latest news and updates from Ensaaf.

Give Victims A Voice matching campaign

November 30, 2022 in Blog, Community, Documentation, Legal Advocacy, Press

On this Giving Tuesday, Ensaaf launches its end-of-year matching campaign. Generous donors will match the first $35,000 raised.

When Ensaaf interviewed Palwinder Kaur, she told us, “My son, who was blind, he used to walk in the streets and say, ‘I am going to ask these men and they will get my father released. If we ask the men outside, only then will they get my father released.’ Police took him into custody. When he used to say such things, I would feel so much pain. It made me feel so much pain. Who is even going to listen to him?”

Palwinder Kaur, wife of Sarbjit Singh
Palwinder Kaur, wife of Sarbjit Singh

Due to your support, we were able to reach Palwinder Kaur and document her family’s experiences of unlawful killing, illegal detention, and torture. She wanted the world to know what had happened.

Over the coming weeks, we will share more information about our major projects and work in creating an undeniable record of crimes against humanity in Punjab, from documenting over 5,300 cases of enforced disappearances and unlawful killings, to creating the first searchable video database that will house over 150 video interviews with victim families.

Please give today and double your donation. Our combined strategies of creating an undeniable record of gross human rights violations, holding perpetrators accountable, and putting international pressure on India will end impunity and achieve justice in Punjab.

The Ensaaf Team

Palwinder Kaur: “There Is No One To Listen.”

November 9, 2022 in Blog, Community, Documentation, Legal Advocacy, Press

A few years after Indian security forces unlawfully killed Palwinder Kaur’s husband Sarbjit Singh in 1991, they abducted, illegally detained, and tortured her. They waterboarded Palwinder Kaur and forced her to sign blank pieces of paper. But in sharing her experiences with Ensaaf, it was her young son’s desperation to find his father that made her tear up, not her own ordeal of torture.

Palwinder Kaur, wife of Sarbjit Singh
Palwinder Kaur, wife of Sarbjit Singh

In the years after her husband’s murder, Indian security forces tortured her, abducted her son, destroyed their belongings, and intimidated family members. Listen to Palwinder Kaur recount her experiences, describe the feeling of isolation from community, and call out for justice.

Palwinder Kaur’s testimony is preserved on Ensaaf’s video archive site Testimonies of Truth. This human rights video archive will grow to be the first and largest repository of video testimonials from surviving families of the “Decade of Disappearances.” Testimonies of Truth: A Video Archive will serve as a permanent, powerful, interactive tool to educate the global community, complementing Ensaaf’s data site on Crimes Against Humanity

Share this video with your friends, family, and community. Help bring the voices of survivors to the entire world!

The Ensaaf Team

Documenting Female Victims: “She was severely beaten.”

June 16, 2022 in Blog, Community, Documentation, Legal Advocacy, Press

In 1993, after Punjab Police abducted Gurmeet Kaur from her home in Kalia, a witness saw her in illegal detention and reported, “She was…severely beaten.” The Punjab Police killed her and orphaned her two children.

Today, we share her full profile on our data visualization site, the first release of the 121 female victims of disappearances and unlawful killings in Punjab documented by Ensaaf. The new information added to her profile includes why Indian security forces targeted her–her husband was a militant, her experiences of illegal detention, a detailed case summary, and the officials responsible for unlawfully killing her, among other information. Her family did not pursue any legal remedies, and her children eventually dropped out of school.

Please double your donation today to support the Documenting Female Victims project. Your support will help us expand the records of 121 female victims of enforced disappearances and unlawful killings from 1984 to 1995 in Punjab, India. 

Thank you!

The Ensaaf Team

Documenting Female Victims: Double Your Donation

June 6, 2022 in Blog, Community, Documentation, Legal Advocacy, Press

Today, as we remember the 38th anniversary of the massacre at the Harmandir Sahib complex in June 1984, we announce Ensaaf’s project, Documenting Female Victims. We ask for your donation to help create and preserve the record of 121 female victims of enforced disappearances and unlawful killings from 1984 to 1995 in Punjab, India. Currently, generous individuals have pledged to match up to $15,000 in donations.

I also want to tell you that my sister-in-law, Raj Kaur, was six months pregnant at the time. That [child] was also killed by the police, or died after being born. Afterwards, when I became acquainted with the police employees, they told [me] that, “Gurcharan Singh, Raj Kaur, [and] Kuldev Kaur died while being tortured at Amloh police station.’ [O] learned that the police beat Surinder Kaur and then shot her on the same day, and threw the body in the Bakhra River.

Sohanjit Kaur, speaking about Raj Kaur and Surinder Kaur

Ensaaf visited over 12,000 villages in Punjab, documenting disappearances and unlawful killings perpetrated by Indian security forces, primarily from 1984 to 1995. Ensaaf released the first data visualization site to map and provide detailed information on crimes against humanity in Punjab, including over 5300 individual profiles of victims, covering over 40 points of information. 

What happened to female victims of crimes against humanity?

As Ensaaf has continued to process its data and release information on perpetrators and develop a companion video testimonial site, we asked ourselves about the unique experiences of the female victims. Did security forces target them for different reasons? Did they suffer different patterns of abuse? Who held the information on what the female victims experienced? Documenting Female Victims will provide the resources Ensaaf needs to answer these questions. 

Please support the match campaign organized with the Dasvandh Network and learn more about what the project involves, including 121 complete profiles on the female victims with family reflections and case summaries, data visualizations, and an in-depth report.

Thank you for supporting our mission to end impunity and achieve justice for crimes against humanity in Punjab!

The Ensaaf Team

Testimonies of Truth: A Video Archive beta release

November 30, 2021 in Blog, Community, Documentation, Legal Advocacy, Press

With much excitement, we invite you to explore the beta release of our new Testimonies of Truth: A Video Archive, with an initial selection of interviews and clips, exploring key human rights themes and survivor perspectives.

This human rights video archive will grow to be the first and largest repository of video testimonials from surviving families of the “Decade of Disappearances.” Testimonies of Truth: A Video Archive will serve as a permanent, powerful, interactive tool to educate the global community, complementing Ensaaf’s data site on Crimes Against Humanity. With your generous support, this archive will be accessed at no charge worldwide.

Watch a tutorial video

By honoring these victim and survivor stories, we hope to continue to educate people around the world about crimes against humanity in Punjab. As you interact with the archive, you can search by theme to learn more about the victims, their stories, and reflections. As this is the beta version of our video archive site, we welcome feedback to as we continue to build out the site.

Ensaaf is grateful to the Khalsa Credit Union for sponsoring the Testimonies of Truth video archive. To date, about 150 survivor video interviews have been filmed since 2012, but there is still work to do to amplify their voices to the world.

Testimonies of Truth: A Video Archive will serve as a permanent, powerful, interactive tool to educate the global community, complementing Ensaaf’s data site on Crimes Against Humanity.

Help bring their voices to the entire world!

Double Your Donation: They Have Not Disappeared

August 30, 2021 in Blog, Community, Documentation, Legal Advocacy, Press, UN

Today, August 30, marks the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances. On this day, we thank you for helping us ensure the names and stories of the victims live on.

Sukhminder Kaur holds onto the passport of her son, Sarabjit Singh, disappeared January 26, 1989, from his home when he was 17 years-old. Police barged into their home during wedding celebrations. She told Ensaaf, “No one has told me if my son is alive or not. I’m holding on to my own hopes, if someone tries to tell me that he is not, I feel angry. If you see something with your own eyes only then can you find peace. Like I told you before, he was precious.”

Victim passport in hand

More than 30 years have passed, and she has not received truth or justice for the disappearance of her son. As the United Nation states, the families of victims “alternate between hope and despair, wondering and waiting, sometimes for years, for news that may never come.”

Ensaaf  stands in solidarity with victims of disappearances and unlawful killings in Punjab and throughout the world. Thank you for your financial support these past two weeks, helping us reach our goal of $30,000. Your contribution will help us create an undeniable and permanent record of India’s atrocity crimes.

Testimonies of Truth: A Video Archive will serve as a permanent, powerful, interactive tool to educate the global community, complementing Ensaaf’s data site on Crimes Against Humanity.

Help bring their voices to the entire world!

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A Song to Remember

May 31, 2015

On the 31st anniversary of the Indian Army assault on the Harmandir Sahib complex, Ensaaf releases A Song to Remember. Through A Song to Remember, Manbir Singh Mand and Jatinderpal Singh pay tribute to their three uncles, killed by Indian security forces during the Decade of Disappearances in Punjab (1984-1995).

The Hill Publishes Ensaaf Article

January 26, 2015

(Pleasanton, CA)

Dear Human Rights Supporter,

As President Obama visits India, The Hill has published an article by Ensaaf co-founder and co-director Sukhman Dhami calling on the U.S. to engage India on its poor human rights record. India has done little to redress widespread and systematic violations, especially in resource rich states and regions populated with religious and ethnic minorities. The U.S. can no longer ignore these violations and must encourage India to end impunity for gross human rights violations.

The Hill is a premiere U.S. political website read by the White House and more lawmakers than any other site, informing policy, politics, and elections.

To ensure that more people read this article, please:

Share the article via Facebook and e-mail,
Share the article on Twitter, and
Comment on the article.

Help spread the message that India's human rights violations will not be ignored. Let's make this the most shared article on The Hill.

Thank you!

New Movie: Seeking Ensaaf on Human Rights Day

December 10, 2014

Today, on Human Rights Day, we share this documentary to show you how your support helps us document abuses on the ground. Seeking Ensaaf was filmed by Andrew Heskett, Ryan Westra, and David Thompson, recipients of the Sikh Scholarship Program at Chapman University, in August 2013. It follows Ensaaf field workers as they document a case of extrajudicial killing in Punjab.

Ensaaf, The Sikh Coalition, and Human Rights Watch Urge President Obama To Support Justice for 1984 Massacres

November 3, 2014

Ensaaf, in partnership with The Sikh Coalition and Human Rights Watch, sent a letter today to President Barack Obama, urging him to support justice for the 1984 anti-Sikh massacres, which claimed the lives of thousands of Sikhs throughout India 30 years ago.

Click the link to read the letter.

Watch Survivor Interviews, Days after November 1984

October 31, 2014

Thirty years have passed since the pogroms of Sikhs in India. During the first week of November 1984, police, politicians, and government leaders organized and implemented pogroms against Sikhs throughout the country. These massacres occurred ostensibly in response to the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards. The news footage released today by Ensaaf, and recorded by the Movement Against State Repression, takes us to the refugee camps where survivors display raw wounds, search for missing loved ones, and share accounts of the killings.

Ensaaf Film Wins Award: Amnesty International Best Human Rights Short

September 19, 2014

Ensaaf’s film The Last Killing won the Amnesty International Best Human Rights Short award at the Isle of Wight Film Festival 2014. The Last Killing will also be screening at the UNSPOKEN Human Rights Film Festival in Utica, NY from October 2 to 4, 2014, creating further awareness about the Decade of Disappearances in Punjab, India.

A Labor of Love: In Memory of Kuljit Singh Dhatt

July 23, 2014

On the 25th anniversary of Kuljit Singh Dhatt’s custodial killing by the Punjab Police, Ensaaf presents A Labor of Love: Contesting Impunity, a multimedia tribute to the strength and resilience of one family and how they fought impunity for 25 years. This tribute includes a video based on eyewitness and family interviews, report, interactive timeline, and photo essay.

Ensaaf Featured on BBC

June 4, 2014

The BBC has highlighted Ensaaf’s work in a new article entitled “How Punjab’s missing thousands are being forgotten.” In this news story, Jastinder Khera reports from Amritsar on the case of Satwant Singh Manak, a family’s long wait for justice, and the Punjab government’s lack of action to end human rights abuses.

A Witness Among the Bodies: Surviving Bluestar

May 30, 2014

On the 30th Anniversary, Ensaaf presents an eyewitness account of the Indian Army assault on the Harmandir Sahib Complex in Amritsar, Punjab, from June 1 to June 6, 1984. This exclusive interview reveals how the Indian Army intentionally killed thousands of civilians and used excessive force during this assault.

Ensaaf Presents The Last Killing

May 23, 2014

Ensaaf is proud to present The Last Killing, an original documentary that chronicles police whistleblower Satwant Singh Manak’s fight for justice for the survivors of ten victims of unlawful killings. Today, May 23, marks 21 years since the Punjab Police filed false cases against Manak to punish him for standing up for human rights. On April 2, Ensaaf helped Manak file an appeal to the Supreme Court.

“The Last Killing”: A New Short Film by Ensaaf

October 24, 2013

Ensaaf is proud to announce the upcoming release of a new short film, The Last Killing, about a former policeman’s commitment to fight for justice. Satwant Singh Manak joined the Punjab Police with dreams of making his community safer. But in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Punjab Police terrorized its own citizens in the name of fighting an insurgency, committing systematic and wide scale torture, disappearances, and unlawful killings. Manak silently witnessed the torture and executions of 15 unarmed individuals at the hands of his fellow police officers. The last killing he witnessed was of Kulwant Singh, a teenager studying in 10th grade. This injustice and brutality awakened Manak. He quit his job and filed a case against his fellow police officers. That case covers ten of the victims.
His courage came at a great cost. The police tortured Manak, fatally tortured his father, and threatened his family, but Manak has continued the fight for justice for over 20 years.

Watch Another Punjab Policeman Speak Out about Human Rights Abuses

July 12, 2013

Last week, Punjab Police Sub-Inspector Surjit Singh publicly stated that former Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Paramjit Singh Gill of Amritsar district ordered him to kill 83 men in faked encounters during the 1990s.

Surjit Singh's story is not a singular one. In this video, former Punjab Police officer Lakhwinder Singh describes his experiences in the police force, where he witnessed his colleagues performing torture. He himself narrowly escaped a faked encounter. Lakhwinder Singh describes, however, how the police did kill his father in a faked encounter.

India: Stop the Arbitrary Execution of Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar

April 16, 2013

On April 15 and 16, 2013, a coalition of U.S.-based organizations wrote to the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, U.S. Department of State, and U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, urging them to call on the Government of India to halt the imminent execution of Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar. The letters were signed by Ensaaf, Jakara Movement, Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund, Sikh Coalition, Sikh Research Institute, United Sikhs, and Voices For Freedom.

Christian Science Monitor Publishes Ensaaf Op-Ed

March 29, 2013

On the 25th anniversary of India’s suspension of the right to life in Punjab, the Christian Science Monitor has published an op-ed article by Ensaaf Co-Founder and Co-Director Sukhman Dhami.

Joint Submission to UN Challenges India

January 11, 2012

In November 2011, Ensaaf partnered with international human rights organization REDRESS, to 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. The Ensaaf/REDRESS joint submission discusses the failure of the Government of India to hold the individuals responsible for these violations to account and to provide victims with effective remedies and full reparation. It focuses on the mass cremations case.

Ensaaf Commemorates 25th Anniversary of 1984 Pogroms with BART Ad Campaign & Mercury News Op-Ed

November 2, 2009

On November 2, Ensaaf launched an ad campaign in the San Francisco Bay Area’s metro system, commemorating the 25th anniversary of the November 1984 pogroms of Sikhs in India. On the same day, the Mercury News also published Ensaaf’s op-ed discussing the anniversary of the pogroms and its continuing impact on India and even the Bay Area.

TIME Magazine Interviews Ensaaf: Help Move Nov. 1984 Awareness to the Homepage

October 29, 2009

Time Magazine, in an article released today, quoted Ensaaf Co-Director Jaskaran Kaur on the total lack of justice for survivors of the November 1984 pogroms of Sikhs in India.

New Statistical Analysis Points To Widespread Human Rights Violations by Indian Government Authorities in Punjab

January 26, 2009

Ensaaf and the Benetech Human Rights Data Analysis Group (HRDAG) released a report today presenting verifiable quantitative findings on mass disappearances and extrajudicial executions in the Indian state of Punjab, contradicting the Indian government's portrayal of the Punjab counterinsurgency as a successful and “humane” campaign.

India: Time to Deliver Justice for Atrocities in Punjab

October 18, 2007

The Indian government must take concrete steps to hold accountable members of its security forces who killed, “disappeared,” and tortured thousands of Sikhs during its counterinsurgency campaign in Punjab, Human Rights Watch and Ensaaf said in a new report released today.