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Wednesday, 2 December 2009

2,700 unmarked graves in Kashmir: Rights report

Ishfaq-ul-Hassan / DNA (Wednesday, December 2, 2009 0:20 IST)

Srinagar: The International People's Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice (IPT), a rights watchdog, claims to have found "2,700 unknown and unmarked mass graves containing 2,943 bodies" across 55 villages in Kashmir. A report on the findings will be released on Wednesday.

"About 2,700 unknown and unmarked graves containing 2,943 bodies have been found in Bandipora, Baramulla, and Kupwara districts. These graves sprung up at various times during the 20 years of turmoil in Jammu and Kashmir," said Khurram Parvez, liaison officer of IPT in Kashmir.

"The report examines 50 alleged "encounter" killings by Indian security forces. Of these, 49 people were labelled militants/foreign insurgents by the security forces. However, the IPT found that 47 people were killed in fake encounters and only one was a local militant," said Parvez.

The report comes 19 months after the Association of Parents of Disappeared People (APDP) released its first 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 Baramulla in north Kashmir.

"There's a connection between the people who disappeared and these unmarked and unidentified graves. Credible and independent investigations must be undertaken into all disappearances and staged killings since the conflict began. The names of those disappeared between 1989-2009 should be rendered into the public domain," the report says. The rights group has demanded that all investigations conducted on these disappearances should be made public.
"A full- scale investigation must be commissioned under provisions of the Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1952, or other relevant laws, to inquire into the disappearances within area. On the matter of disappearances, we also note that certain militants who surrendered to security forces have been disappeared in violation of Habeas Corpus, and that the chain of violations in these cases should be investigated," the report says.

The Jammu and Kashmir government reacted cautiously to the findings. "I did not see any report. It may be unofficially somewhere. I did not go through it. If they are releasing it tomorrow, we will go through it and then react," said Ali Mohammad Sagar, state minister for law, parliamentary affairs and rural development.


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