For the first time in the terrorism-hit history of Jammu and Kashmir, a probe has been initiated into the fate of at least 700 missing people, wherever specific details are available about them.
"The number of the people gone missing since 1990 is about 700. We will probe all the specific cases of such people," Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad told Hindustan Times. This number of the missing people is based on the reports lodged with the police.
"The cases of all those missing people, whose specific details are made available, would be probed with all the thoroughness to bring out the fact as to what happened to them — whether they were killed in cross fire, custody or made it to Pakistan occupied Kashmir for training in arms and ammunition," the chief minister said.
The methodology of probe would be on the lines adopted in the recent five cases. Policemen are scanning records of those missing people — the time, place and circumstances in which they disappeared. Each case is being looked at with a professional eye with which the state police unearthing truth about the fake encounter of Abdul Rehman Padder of Larnoo, Kokkernag of South Kashmir.
Padder's case opened windows to the fate of four other people, whose graves were dug and bodies exhumed. The investigations in Padder's case also led to the trail of the disappearance of Ghulam Nabi Wani, Ali Mohammad Padroo and Nazir Ahmed Dekka of Kookernag belt and Shokat Khan of Banihal.
The recovery of their bodies has deepened fears of all others whose near and dear ones have gone missing. They have hit the streets and staged massive demonstrations, demanding to know what happened to their sons, brothers and husbands.
"We have nothing to hide," the chief minister said.
But he made it clear that the number of the missing people, circulated by hard-line separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani at 11,000 plus was "highly exaggerated".
"If all the 11,000 are dead, then who are the terrorists in PoK, waiting at LoC to return home," Azad asked.
"If we had any intention to cover up things, the truth about five cases would not have surfaced," he said and added: "It must be appreciated that these were the state police investigations that have lifted the lid out of the mystery of these people who had gone missing and were dubbed and killed as terrorists."
Ruling out the entry of the international human rights groups like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Asia Watch to Jammu and Kashmir to probe these cases, the chief minister said: "There was no need for that."
" When our police has conducted the investigations in a transparent manner and brought out the truth in the most credible fashion, the human rights watch groups should appreciate that and learn to trust our investigations. We have done the best job."
"There is going to be zero tolerance to such killings. We have demonstrated it by our action," the chief minister said.
But there are other problems for the Government and the investigating agencies.
"There are many of them in Pakistan occupied Kashmir," the chief minister said. This fact is substantiated by the fact that during the past one year 106 families from Jammu and Kashmir, mostly from the Valley, had applied for permit to visit PoK, whose children had gone across for training.
"It is a fact that there are many among those listed in the missing list who are in PoK, and the families never come out with the exact details about them," the chief minister said.
Yet another problem is that those kidnapped and killed by terrorists are also listed as missing people.
" It is a difficult job and we should not expect results overnight," Azad said.
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