The Jammu and Kashmir government on Tuesday refused to buy rights activists' apprehension that mass graves in Rajouri and Poonch districts have bodies of civilians who have gone missing saying "these are all combatants killed in operations".
"An impression is being created that the unidentified dead bodies are buried in unmarked graves… However it's clear beyond doubt that all those killed were combatants," said state home department's report submitted to the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) on Tuesday.
The SHRC is hearing a petition by human rights bodies' apprehensive that many civilians disappeared in security forces custody in the past two decades might be buried in such graves, as in Poonch and Rajouri, across Kashmir.
Official puts the figure of unidentified graves in Poonch at 1,486 out of 2,134 killed since 1990. In Rajouri, 594 graves remain unidentified out of 1,297 killed.
The state home department said slain combatants, operating under disguise using code names, always were categorised as unidentified persons.
"Local slain terrorists were identified and handed over to legal heirs. Foreigners were hand over to local Auqaf (Muslim organisation) for burials as per religious rites," said the state home department report.
On why graves are unmarked, the state home department told the SHRC that there was no tradition of fixing epitaphs in rural areas alongside a grave.
"There has never been any complaint from local people or the Auqaf that security forces buried dead surreptitiously in any of these graves," said the home department.
Last year, a SHRC report claim there were as many as 2,156 unidentified bodies buried at 38 sites in four districts of north Kashmir since 1990, besides the graves in Poonch and Rajouri.
The SHRC report pointed out that 574 bodies were identified as disappeared locals - 17 of these have already been exhumed and shifted to family or village grave sites.
The SHRC report was followed by petitions by rights groups to widen the investigations into the unmarked graves to know whereabouts about people disappeared in security forces' custody.
"Police have taken cognizance in all cases of custodial disappearances and action as warranted under law has been taken against the personnel involved," the home department report said and added that, "the apprehensions that unidentified dead bodies may be of the enforced disappearances is only based on statements of some person and not on facts."
Describing the militancy of 1990s as "nothing short of a full scale war launched by terrorists", the government said 5,396 security personnel lost lives and 12,947 were injured in Jammu and Kashmir.
The report claims 16,901 civilians were also killed, of which 3,655 civilians were killed while maintaining law and order.
The SHRC has directed the director general of police to file a separate report on unmarked graves in Poonch and Rajouri, which falls in Pir Panchal Range.