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Kashmir panel wants international probe into unmarked graves

Saturday September 17, 2011 05:19:56 PM, IANS

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Srinagar: A day after the state human rights panel directed the Jammu and Kashmir government to begin a probe into the more than 2,000 unmarked graves in various parts of the state, the association of parents of disappeared persons (APDP) maintained that only an international probe would be "credible, independent and representative".

Talking to IANS here Saturday, Khurram Parvez, coordinator of the APDP and liaison person of the International People's Tribunal on Kashmir (IPTK), said: "The state human rights commission (SHRC) has ordered that an independent, credible and representative probe must be held into the unmarked graves in north Kashmir and those in Poonch and Rajouri districts of the Jammu region.

"We believe only an international probe would be credible, independent and representative.

"The SHRC has shifted the responsibility on the state government. They have ordered the state government to create a structured independent enquiry. We still hold that only an international probe would be impartial."

The human rights activist and coordinator of the APDP said: "We hope the state government will immediately start DNA profiling of all the nearly 7,000 unmarked graves, 2,730 of which have been found in north Kashmir and 3,844 in Poonch and Rajouri districts.

"The SHRC has not been clear in its order on the forensic examination of those buried in these graves. There has to be a thorough forensic examination of the buried persons because we want to know how and why the buried persons were killed which cannot be found out just through the DNA profiling."

The SHRC had passed on order here Friday directing the state government to start a structured independent probe into the unmarked graves identified by its investigating wing.

On the plea of the APDP, the SHRC had also extended its order pertaining to the mass graves in north Kashmir to those the APDP said existed in the Poonch and Rajouri districts of the Jammu region.

The SHRC had also asked for creation of a compensatory mechanism by the state government which must be put in place for the next of kin of the victims.

The SHRC order directed the state home department, the director general of the police (DGP) and the district magistrates of the concerned districts to speed up the investigating and the prosecuting process in connection with the unmarked graves.

The security agencies, however, continue to maintain that those buried in the unmarked graves are either foreign or local guerrillas who were killed in gunfights with the security forces close to the line of control (LOC) after infiltrating into the state.

"The tradition of marking graves is an urban practice. In majority of rural areas the graveyards are full of unmarked graves.

"When killed, the slain militants are handed over to the locals by the police for burial as per the Islamic practices. Yes, when a local militant was killed close to the LOC, attempts have invariably been made for identification and such identities are recorded with the local police," said a senior intelligence officer here.






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