Kashmir: Probe called into all disappearance cases

The State Human Rights Commission has admitted the presence of unmarked graves containing over 2,000 bodies at 38 sites in north Kashmir.

Last Updated: Aug 21, 2011, 19:01 PM IST

Srinagar: Admitting the presence of unmarked graves containing over 2,000 bodies at 38 sites in north Kashmir, the State Human Rights Commission`s investigative wing has called for probe by an impartial agency in all disappearance cases in the state.

"It is beyond doubt that unmarked graves containing unidentified bodies do exist at various places in north Kashmir... A proper FIR should be registered keeping in view the claims and investigated thoroughly by an impartial agency
-- not only in north Kashmir but across the state wherever such unmarked graves exist," the inquiry report filed by the SHRC`s investigative wing said.

The inquiry was conducted after SHRC took suo moto cognisance of media reports in April about the presence of unmarked graves and calls from Amnesty International to probe these allegations.

"The police, while handing over the unidentified bodies to locals for burial, claimed them to be of unidentified militants. But later on, out of 2,730 unidentified bodies, 574 were identified as those of locals by their kin at these 38 places visited by the investigating team," it said.

The inquiry report, conducted by an 11-member team under the supervision of SSP BA Yatoo of the investigative wing of the SHRC, suggested that DNA profiling should be carried out on the bodies buried in unmarked graves for matching with kin of the missing persons.

"The scope of DNA extraction from remains of these unidentified bodies buried in unmarked graves of north Kashmir is still very bright. As the time will go on to elapse, chances will be more and more reduced," it said.

"Thus the Commission should pass an order with directions to do the needful as soon as possible so that the identity of the disappeared persons and those unidentified bodies buried in nameless graves may be established or negated. The DNA sampling techniques can be supplemented by other techniques like dental examination, distinctive medical characteristics, finger prints and physical description, etc," the report said.

It also said if the government does not handle the issue properly, it would be presumed that the "state wants to remain silent deliberately to hide rights violations".

"If none of the two steps are taken, the state should go for suitable compensation to the kin of all disappeared and missing persons and take immediate steps for their rehabilitation," the report said, adding that the minimum compensation for each person should be Rs seven lakh.

The report also suggested that DNA profile of all the unidentified persons killed in encounters, be militants or civilians, should be maintained to prevent the misuse of laws like AFSPA, Public Safety Act and Disturbed Areas Act.