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!

Gratefully,
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

Click this image to watch a tutorial video on how to use the beta site

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 info@ensaaf.org 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!

10 Reasons to Support Ensaaf

December 20, 2019 in Documentation, Legal Advocacy, Press, Reports

Ensaaf works to address impunity for crimes against humanity in Punjab, with strategies and methods that also impact other regions suffering from gross human rights violations. We already provide technical assistance to human rights defenders working in India and beyond. We provide litigation support to cases in India that will set precedent for the entire country. And we share our data and resources publicly, so any community can learn from our experiences. Our work is innovative, timely, and makes an impact in Punjab and beyond.

    Reason 10: We do 10x the work of other organizations with similar resources.
    Reason 9: We called out Sumedh Saini for atrocities. Next year, we’ll focus on Izhar Alam.
    Reason 8: Amar Kaur’s testimony and our Oral History Video Archive project.
    Reason 7: We recently documented the case of 18-year old Kulwant Singh. Every case matters.
    Reason 6: We are creating a permanent and thorough human rights archive.
    Reason 5: We impacted key legal cases.
    Reason 4: Our work is essential for survivors to be heard.
    Reason 3: We have a proven track record and great partners.
    Reason 2: We take charge of our own narrative.
    Reason 1: We must protect the human rights of the world.

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Ensaaf Launches Ground-Breaking Effort to Name Chief Perpetrators

August 30, 2019 in Documentation, Legal Advocacy, Press

On August 30, 2019, the International Day of the Disappeared, Ensaaf released its first in-depth perpetrator dossier of former Punjab Police Chief Sumedh Singh Saini. Our dossier includes a visualization identifying his victims, command history, awards, and known promotions. The dossier also includes news articles detailing a key legal case and disciplinary hearings, among other materials.

Continue reading »

Torture & Trauma Study

October 24, 2005 in Documentation

Expert Medical Study Documents Torture and Psychological Trauma Suffered by Families of the “Disappeared” in Punjab

In May and June 2005, Ensaaf organized the Physicians for Human Rights and the Bellevue/NYU School of Medicine Program for Survivors of Torture to conduct a study of 127 families who survived the disappearance of a family member in Amritsar, Punjab. These cases drew from those pending before the National Human Rights Commission in the Punjab mass cremations case. Ensaaf consulted with the investigation team in the U.S. for one year prior to the study, providing guidance and background on the legal proceedings. Ensaaf also organized all of the logistics of the study in Punjab.

October 24, 2005

Expert Study Calls on Indian National Human Rights Commission to Investigate Violations

(San Francisco, CA) Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) and the Bellevue/New York University School of Medicine Program for Survivors of Torture (Bellevue) submitted a report today in the Punjab mass cremations matter pending before India’s National Human Rights Commission since December 1996. The report, entitled Evaluation of Litigants Pertaining to Writ Petition (Crl.) No. 447/95 Committee for Information and Initiative on Punjab vs. State of Punjab, is based on structured interviews and diagnostic evaluations of 127 family members of victims killed and illegally cremated by Indian security forces from 1984 to 1995.

“As a result of the death and illegal cremation of a close family member, most of the individuals interviewed demonstrated severe psychological disorders…”Dr. Allen Keller and Dr. Barry Rosenfeld

A six-member PHR/Bellevue investigative team with extensive experience in documenting torture and human rights abuses conducted this study in Amritsar, Punjab in May and June 2005 at the request of Ensaaf, a U.S.-based non-profit organization fighting impunity for human rights abuses committed in India. The PHR/Bellevue assessment reveals a “pattern of intentional abuse by law enforcement officials among multiple family members,” demonstrating that the Commission needs to investigate and adjudicate the fundamental rights violations committed by Indian security forces, beyond the illegal cremation of the family member.

“As a result of the death and illegal cremation of a close family member, most of the individuals interviewed demonstrated severe psychological disorders including depression and posttraumatic stress disorder, with nearly half of those interviewed continuing to describe these symptoms more than ten years after the traumas occurred,” write Dr. Allen Keller and Dr. Barry Rosenfeld, authors of the report. They further write, “Many participants described permanent impairments and long-term disability related to the physical abuse inflicted by the authorities during the time period surrounding the death and cremation of their relative.”

CIIP vs. State of Punjab has proceeded before the Commission for nearly nine years. The Commission, however, has not heard the testimony of a single survivor in the Punjab mass cremations matter; nor has it found a single security official or agency liable for the thousands of disappearances and extrajudicial executions leading to illegal cremations in Punjab. The Commission continues to flout international and domestic law by refusing to investigate the secret cremations, ignoring fundamental rights violations such as the unlawful deprivation of life and torture of family members. The PHR/Bellevue report should compel the Commission to investigate the physical and psychological trauma suffered by victim families, in addition to the murder and illegal cremation of their relative.

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