The state-run human rights commission in India-held Kashmir, on information from a human rights group, has told the government to investigate at least 2,080 unmarked mass graves discovered in border areas of the restive region, reported Al Jazeera on Friday.
According to the Doha-based media network, the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP), a human rights group in Kashmir, told the commission there were 3,844 unmarked graves — 2,717 in Poonch and 1,127 in Rajouri — along the contentious Line of Control (LoC) dividing the disputed territory between Pakistan and India.
The commission acknowledged the presence of the 2,080 unmarked graves, Al Jazeera reported, asking the government for a comprehensive investigation to be completed in six months, including DNA tests of the bodies to compare it with family members of the disappeared.
According to APDP, 8,000 people have disappeared in the decades-old conflict between the two neighbouring countries. The association accused government forces of staging gun battles to cover up killings, said the Al Jazeera report.
“We have been demanding that there be an independent commission to do a credible probe on the mass graves,” Khurram Parvez from APDP told Al Jazeera. “We have done a study of 53 cases for a report where the bodies were exhumed from unknown graves. It was found that 49 bodies in the graves were of civilians and one was a local militant, three bodies were unknown. These people were dubbed as foreign militants by the government.”
In 2011, the Jammu Kashmir State Human Rights Commission had confirmed that thousands of bullet-riddled bodies had been dumped in unmarked graves — many of them mass graves — in India-held Kashmir.
The findings had revealed that of the more than 2,000 bodies found, at least 574 were local residents.
Al Jazeera’s report, quoting the APDP, said that since 2011, the Indian government has failed to comply with directions from the human rights commission and instead, continues to avoid an investigation on the pretext it would lead to a “law and order problem” in Kashmir.
Similarly in 2008, human rights group International People’s Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice had found unmarked graves containing several thousand bodies during a three-year survey of dozens of villages in India-held Kashmir. At the time, the group had calculated that 8,000 people had gone missing in the 20-year separatist insurgency.