2156 unidentified bodies in 38 graves in Kashmir: state human rights panel inquiry

FP

For the first time in Jammu and Kashmir, an official inquiry has said that it is "beyond doubt" that there are scores of unidentified bodies in unmarked graves in the Valley as many as 2156 bodies buried at 38 sites since militancy began in 1990.

All these bodies, according to an inquiry by the investigative wing of the J&K State Human Rights Commission (SHRC), were handed over by the police to the local population for burial with bullet injuries and were classified as "unidentified militants." Strongly contesting this in the absence of any profiling done by the police, the probe has called for a thorough investigation across the state, FIRs, exhumation and prompt DNA profiling of the bodies and comparison of samples with those taken from residents who have been campaigning against the disappearance of their relatives.

It quotes former British Prime Minister William Gladstone to make a telling point: "Show me the manner in which a nation cares for its dead and I will measure with mathematical exactness, the tender mercy of its people, their respect for the law of the land and their loyalty to high ideals".

The report says that of the bodies, a few were defaced, 20 were charred, five only have skulls remaining and there are at least 18 graves with more than one body each.

This startling conclusion comes 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 J&K SHRC.

The team scoured police records to count the number of "unidentified bodies" sent for burial, cross-checked this against testimonies from police officials, eyewitnesses, village committees, village heads, elders, mosque committees, gravediggers and records prepared by caretakers of the graveyards. Many witnesses spoke on the condition that they not be named the testimonies of 62 who didn't seek anonymity have been made part of the report.

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