DAWN.COM | World | Rights group urges probe into unmarked Kashmir graves
SRINAGAR: A human rights group in Indian-administered Kashmir urged authorities on Wednesday to launch a probe into 2,700 unmarked graves of people believed to have died as a result of the region’s revolt against Indian rule.
The International People’s Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice (IPT) has in the past three years uncovered the unidentified bodies buried in villages near Pakistan-administered Kashmir.
The independent Srinagar-based group, which calculates 8,000 people have gone missing in the 20-year separatist insurgency, released a report entitled ‘Buried Evidence’ documenting the ‘unknown, unmarked, and mass graves’ containing at least 2,900 bodies.
About 180 graves held two or more bodies, said the report, which surveyed 55 villages through interviews with gravediggers, graveyard managers and residents, and first information reports filed by the police.
‘These graves include bodies of extrajudicial, summary, and arbitrary executions, as well as massacres committed by the Indian military and paramilitary forces,’ the IPT said.
‘The Government of India and the Government of Jammu and Kashmir must commit to, and enable, independent and transparent investigations into unknown, unmarked and mass graves,’ it urged.
International human rights groups have in the past called for a probe into whether the unmarked graves held bodies of civilians who have ‘disappeared’ as Indian security forces struggle to contain the Muslim-majority region’s revolt.
A police officer who spoke on condition of anonymity said most of the bodies were likely those of militants killed in fighting with Indian forces.
Last year police admitted there were more than 200 unmarked graves in one location but insisted they contained dead rebels and not civilians.
Police said it was not possible to identify every militant killed during gunbattles in Indian-administered Kashmir.
The IPT report said that more than 8,000 people have gone missing in the region, mostly after their arrest by Indian security personnel.
Indian officials contend many of the missing had crossed over to Pakistan to join the insurgents.
The report also examined the deaths of 50 ‘militants’ killed during shoot-outs with security forces, and concluded 47 of the dead were civilians.