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All missing cases to be probed in J&K

For the first time a probe has been initiated into the fate of at least 700 missing people in J&K, reports Arun Joshi.

india Updated: Feb 16, 2007 12:45 IST
Arun Joshi

For thefirst time in theterrorism-hit history of Jammu and Kashmir, a probe has been initiatedinto the fate ofat least 700 missing people, wherever specific details are available about them.

"The number of the people gone missing since 1990 is about 700. Wewill probe all the specific cases of such people," Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad told Hindustan Times.This numberof the missing peopleis 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 Pakistanoccupied Kashmir for trainingin arms and ammunition," the chief minister said.

Themethodology of probe would be on the linesadopted in the recent five cases. Policemen are scanning recordsof thosemissing people — thetime, placeand circumstances in which they disappeared. Each case is being looked at with a professionaleye with which the state police unearthing truth about the fake encounter ofAbdul Rehman Padderof Larnoo, Kokkernag of South Kashmir.

Padder's case opened windows to the fate of four other people, whose graves were dug andbodies exhumed.The investigations in Padder's case also led to the trail of the disappearanceofGhulam Nabi Wani, Ali Mohammad Padrooand Nazir Ahmed Dekka of Kookernag belt and Shokat Khan of Banihal.

The recovery of their bodieshasdeepened fears of all others whose near and dear ones have gone missing. They have hit thestreetsand staged massive demonstrations, demanding to knowwhat happened to theirsons, brothers and husbands.

"We have nothing to hide," the chief minister said.

But he made it clear thatthe numberof the missing people, circulated byhard-line separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelaniat11,000 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 havesurfaced," he said andadded: "It must be appreciated that these werethe state police investigationsthat have liftedthe lidout of the mystery of these people who had gone missing and weredubbed and killed as terrorists."

Ruling out the entry of the internationalhuman 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 forthat."

" 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 andlearn to trust our investigations. We have done the best job."

"Thereis going to be zero tolerance to such killings. We have demonstratedit 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 substantiatedby the fact that during the past one year 106 families from Jammu and Kashmir, mostlyfrom the Valley, had applied forpermit tovisit PoK, whose children had gone across for training.

"It is a fact thatthere are many among those listed in themissing list who are in PoK, and the familiesnever 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 asmissing people.

" It is a difficult job and we should notexpect results overnight," Azad said.

Email Arun Joshi: a_joshi957@rediffmail.com

First Published: Feb 16, 2007 12:09 IST