‘A thousand ft deep gorge where crows are eating corpses’ and other tales from Kashmir

For the first time ever, the J-K Legislative Assembly discussed the issue of "unmarked graves'' for more than two and half hours where a ruling NC legislator gave a long and heartrending description of how his neighbors and friends disappeared after being arrested by security forces from home, another NC legislator talked about "a thousand ft deep gorge in his border constituency where crows are eating corpses of men''.

It was September 27 – second day of J-K assembly's autumn session – and the debate was extraordinary for several reasons. Two among the ruling party legislators who spoke in the house belong to Kupwara – a frontier district where the people have suffered the most – and the other is from Poonch – a district in Jammu province where the state's counter insurgency machine has been acting with a massive iron fist. These three elected legislators didn't limit their speeches to the need for an identification of the unidentified men buried in thousands of unmarked graves in the state or stress over the urgency to bring closure for the families of victims of disappeared persons, they went miles ahead. They narrated long testimonies and eyewitness accounts of how their neighbors and friends were picked up by the security forces, never to return.

Though the debate had begun with a show of competitive politics by Kashmir centric ruling National Conference and opposition Peoples Democratic Party – both interested to take the credit for raising the unmarked graves issue. The PDP had moved a motion, seeking adjournment of the question hour to focus exclusively over this issue. In the middle of shouting and blame game between the legislators, the speaker rejected the PDP motion leading to a walk out by PDP. The discussion on the issue of the unmarked graves was, however, initiated over a short notice resolution by NC legislators, Mir Saifullah (Kupwara), Nazir Gurezi (Gurez) and Ajaz Jan (Poonch).

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