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23 August 2011

SHRC confirms unmarked mass graves in Kashmir

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By Bashir Assad


Srinagar: The Jammu-Kashmir State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) in its fresh report says dozens of unmarked mass graves hold more than 2000 unidentified bodies. The report is likely to create tumult afresh in the trouble torn valley.


Pertinently a human rights group in December 2009 had claimed to have found 2700 unmarked and mass graves containing bodies of 2943 people across 55 villages of north Kashmir districts of Kupwara, Baramullah and Bandipora.


The International People’s Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice, a rights watchdog, had released a preliminary report in 2009 “Buried Evidence: Unknown, Unmarked, and Mass Graves” in which the revelations were made. Since then rights groups and political parties alike have been demanding independent inquiry to fix the responsibility on security forces for this” heinous crime”. Convenor of the Tribunal, Dr Angana P Chatterji had said the graveyards investigated have bodies of those murdered in encounters and fake encounters from 1990 to 2009. “The graves include bodies of extra-judicial, summary and arbitrary executions, as well as massacres by the Indian military and paramilitary forces,” she had said and adding that of these graves 2373 (87.9 percent) were unnamed. “154 contained two bodies each and 23 contained more than two bodies.


Within these 23 graves, the number of bodies ranged from 3 to 17.” She had claimed. The report shocked everyone in Kashmir and voices against the reported extra-judicial killings gained momentum and demand for independent inquiry from rights bodies of international repute like Amnesty International started echoing consistently.


The issue of mass unidentified graves was first disclosed by a local organization comprising of parents of disappeared persons during the conflict period from 1989. Association of Parents of Disappeared People (APDP) in 2007 released its report on nameless graves. Titled “Facts Under Ground”, the report gave details of 940 to 1000 nameless graves. The report was compiled after a two-year survey conducted by volunteers of the APDP in three tehsils, including Uri and Baramullah in north Kashmir.


State Human Rights Commission in its fresh report has said that innocent people have been caught up in the conflict and some 8,000 have disappeared since 1989. It merits a mention here that the commission was set up in 1997 after widespread allegations of rights abuses by the army, paramilitary and police. However, since its inception, the commission very frequently expressed its displeasure on state government for not implementing its recommendations in hundreds of rights abuses cases which were proved by the commission and has sought action against the erring security personnel besides compensating the victim families.


The fresh report released by the commission is likely to deepen the crises in Kashmir as the separatist leaders have already made their intentions clear.


[Bashir Assad is a senior Journalist based in Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir. He is now Bureau Chief (J&K) of IndianMuslimObserver.com. He can be contacted at bashirassad@rediffmail.com]

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