Violent-ridden past of Kashmir came to haunt chief minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed on Thursday when the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) asked him to address the issues of unmarked graves.
“Seven years have passed since ‘Facts Underground’ listed more than 940 unknown, unmarked graves and mass graves in the Uri area of Baramulla district of North Kashmir. It’s closely connected to the issue of enforced disappearances,” said APDP spokesman Tahira in the letter addressed to the chief minister.
An APDP report in 2009, prepared in collaboration with the International Peoples’ Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice, had conducted research in 62 sites across three districts of Bandipora, Baramulla, and Kupwara and documented 2700 unknown, unmarked, and mass graves, containing 2,943 bodies.
Out of which, according to the report, 2,373 were in unmarked graves, and 177 graves contained two or more bodies.
It also claims 8,000 were subject to enforced disappearances in Jammu and Kashmir since 1989.
“Successive governments issued contradictory statements regarding enforced disappearances. To date, despite numerous legal complaints and petitions, there have been no final investigations or prosecutions of persons responsible for enforced disappearances or investigations on unknown, unmarked and mass graves,” said the spokesperson.
The APDP in a written letter to CM Sayeed asked for “an independent commission of inquiry.”
“This Commission should be co-chaired by two credible retired justices of the Supreme Court of India,” she said.
Such a commission, the APDP demanded, should be assisted by a relevant panel of international experts on enforced disappearances.
“Independent observers should observe the process and draw on the local knowledge of impacted communities,” the letter reads.
The APDP, a body of those whose relatives disappeared in the last two and a half decade, reiterated openness to stand DNA profiling.”
“These must be analyzed by international bodies, for example the ICRC already based in Jammu and Kashmir, as the credibility of forensic science laboratories in India have repeatedly been held in question,” it said.
The rights body also asked for identification of the sites of unknown, unmarked, and mass graves that need to be protected from desecration or destruction.
“These graveyards are sites of evidence, culture, and history. The government must cooperate in this regard,” it demanded.
A copy of the letter has also be sent to state home department and the director general police.