2000 Unidentified Bodies Buried in Unmarked Graves in Kashmir

Srinagar, Aug 21: The Kashmir government recognized Human Right Commission has disclosed that 2156 unidentified bodies are buried in unmarked graves at 38 different sites in the region.

A report released by SHRC’s investigative team said it is beyond doubt that the unmarked graves containing unidentified bodies do exist at various places in north Kashmir.

“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>”.

The report said there were 21 unmarked graves in Baramulla, three each in Bandipore and Handwara and 11 in Kupwara. The probe said that it established 851 unidentified bodies in Baramulla, 14 in Bandipore, 14 in Handwara and 1277 in Kupwara.

The SHRC report came after a three-year-long inquiry by an 11-member team led by Bashir Ahmad Yatoo, the Senior Superintendent of Police of the investigative wing of the Commission.

The report suggested that DNA profiling should be carried out on the bodies buried in the unmarked graves for matching with kin of the missing persons. “The scope of DNA extraction from the remains of these unidentified bodies buried in unmarked graves of north Kashmir is still very bright. As time passes, chances will be more and more reduced.”

The report said 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”.

A proper FIR should be registered keeping in view the claims are investigated thoroughly by an impartial agency – not only in north Kashmir but across the region wherever such unmarked graves exist.

The SHRC probe was in response to a campaign by the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons, which in March 2008, released a report, “Facts Underground” and pointed out the presence of unmarked graves.