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'Mass graves' are only unmarked graves: Omar Abdullah

Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah today denied the existence of "mass graves" in the state, saying these were only unmarked graves.

india Updated: Sep 27, 2011 20:01 IST

Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah on Tuesday denied the existence of "mass graves" in the state, saying these were only unmarked graves.

Delivering a long speech in the assembly, Abdullah said: "It is important to set the record straight. I want to make it clear these are not mass graves. Nobody has furnished any proof about a mass grave existing in the state.

"If anybody has information about so-called mass graves, let him give the information to the state human rights commission.

"What we are talking about is unmarked graves. When we talk about mass graves, it has international connotations. People buried in unmarked graves have been buried with due religious rites. I want to make it clear with authority that all the disappeared persons are not buried in these graves.

"Some of the disappeared persons are driving taxis or have set up some businesses across the Line of Control (LOC)," he said, referring to the part of Kashmir with Pakistan.

"For their return we have created a provision through the rehabilitation policy. So far 800-900 applications have been received from families of those who want to return. A hundred such applications have already been approved by us.

"When such persons return with their family and children instead of guns, the propaganda of our neighbouring country would be exposed.

"Another thing I want to make absolutely clear is whether anyone can with authority say that all those buried in the unmarked graves were killed by the security forces?

"I can say with authority that some of the persons buried in these unmarked graves were killed by the militants.

"Why are the security forces treated as guilty unless they prove themselves to be innocent? Why does not this perception hold good for the militants?

"In an encounter in the Gurez, 14 foreign militants were killed and buried under Islamic rites after maintaining the records of all of them properly."

Abdullah took a dig at Pakistan, saying Islamabad did not even recognise its own regular soldiers who took part in the 1999 Kargil conflict with India.

"Can anyone say with authority that during the last 22 years not a single person died in the training camps across the LOC?

"In villages is it not the practice to mark graves after the dead are buried here.

"(A total of) 2,090 foreign militants killed during the lats 22 years in Poonch and Rajouri districts are buried there.

"If specific instances are brought to our notice, we are ready to go for DNA matching of the buried persons with those who fear their dear ones could be buried in these graves."

The chief minister then took on Britain.

"Now Britain gives us a lecture on human rights. They must set their house in order (first).

"People were lifted from Iraq and Afghanistan. What happened to them in Guantanamo Bay?"

Talking about his proposal for a truth and reconciliation commission, Abdullah said: "(A total of) 17,000 civilians were killed during militancy. People want to know why they were killed? The truth and reconciliation commission cannot function unless it is facilitated by the authorities across the LOC."

First Published: Sep 27, 2011 19:59 IST