In May 2019 Khalsa Aid Canada will open Lapata. And the Left Behind, an exhibition that showcasing portraits and interviews by distinguished multimedia journalist Abhishek Madhukar, that expose the lingering weight of forced disappearances in India’s north-western state of Panjab.
Young men were arrested indefinitely, and human rights abuses dramatically increased; police and security forces abducted those suspected to be involved in a movement for liberation, often in the presence of witnesses – yet later denied having them in custody. Most are understood to have been killed, but their bodies remain missing with only a small number receiving the ashes of their loved ones.
In 1995, human rights activist Jaswant Singh Khalra went missing himself after exposing municipal records detailing how as many as 25,000 Sikh youths were secretly cremated after being killed in police custody. As recently as 2017, human rights group, Panjab Advocacy and Documentation Project (PADP) meticulously recorded the names of 8,257 young male Sikhs who had disappeared.
Tragically, in the absence of a formal investigation, the true number of disappeared – the lapata – may never be known.