Government seeks closure of SHRC probe

Matter Will Be Investigated By Truth And Reconciliation Commission: Home Deptt

UNMARKED GRAVES

ARIF SHAFI WANI

Srinagar, Aug 16: Jammu and Kashmir Government has asked the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) to dispose off the case on unmarked graves saying the matter will be investigated by the yet to be constituted Truth and Reconciliation Commission.  The constitution of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is lingering from past many years.
In its 27- page Action Taken Report (ATR) submitted to the SHRC, the state’s Home Department has traced various facets of militancy and unmarked graves in Kashmir.
The report maintains that most of the unmarked graves already stand identified by the respective police stations during past over 20 years and the remaining ones are mostly of unidentified militants who were killed in encounters with various security agencies. However, the Home Department maintains in the report that the Government is open to further probe including DNA sampling to confirm identify of the deceased.
The report also traces the measures taken by the government to investigate the matter of unmarked graves.
“The State Government has always been open minded and transparent on all issues pertaining to human rights and that any complaint or grievance by any individual shall be put to proper scrutiny and investigation to the satisfaction of the complainant,” the special secretary to Government, Home Department states in the Action Taken Report.
The report states that “it is in this background the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir on the floor of the State Legislature on March 5, 2011 gave an idea of having a Truth and Reconciliation Commission in the State while replying to the motion on Governor’s address.”
“The honorable CM was pleased to mention that the Government shall look into all the aspects relating to the establishment of such a Commission. The CM also raised the issue of setting up of Truth and Reconciliation Commission in the meeting of the National Integration Council held in New Delhi in September 2011,” the report said.
The report states that the constitution of Truth and Reconciliation Commission for the State would however require consultation and broad consensus among all the stakeholders.
“In view of the detailed submission the case (of unmarked graves) filed before SHRC may kindly be disposed off accordingly,” the Home Department asks the Commission in the ATR.
Incidentally, last year the CM, Omar Abdullah, last year had hinted at setting of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, to seek an Indo-Pak joint strategy in the form of a ‘Jammu and Kashmir centric’ confidence building measure so that all aspects of militancy, its origin, its impact on people, issues of disappearance, migration and many more related concerns are studied threadbare and addressed accordingly for reconciliation and healing.
During a debate over the issue in Assembly last year, the CM had supported DNA profiling of the bodies in thousands of graves in the State but he had maintained that “every missing person is not dead. Some people who have been declared missing are living across the border.”
The SHRC launched investigation into the unmarked graves following massive campaign by the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) which released a report, “Facts Underground” in March, 2008, alleging presence of unmarked graves in the State.
Subsequently, the SHRC had issued notices to the then Congress-PDP government asking it to set up the probe committee. In December 2009, the International People’s Tribunal on Human Rights, released a report on unmarked graves ‘Buried Evidence: Unknown, Unmarked, and Mass Graves in Indian-administered Kashmir.
After three-year-long inquiry by an 11-member team led by Bashir Ahmad Yatoo, the Senior Superintendent of Police of the SHRC’s investigative wing, it came to fore that there are 2,156 unmarked graves at 38 sites in north Kashmir.
A division bench of the SHRC comprising then chairperson, Justice (Retd) Bashir-ud-Din and member Javaid Kawoos had recommended setting up of an “independent credible empowered body” to enquire and identify the unmarked mass graves through DNA testing and other scientific methods in North Kashmir districts.
The Commission has also asked for prosecution of the people involved in perpetrating enforced disappearance. “Prosecution to bring to justice perpetrators of crime including commission of culpability homicide shall be undertaken on due process and in due course of time,” it had recommended.
The SHRC is simultaneously probing the issue of unmarked graves in Rajouri and Poonch districts of Jammu on a complaint filed by the APDP and the International People Tribunal for Human Rights and Justice in Kashmir. These human rights groups have listed 2,717 graves in 90 graveyards in Poonch and 1,127 graves in 118 cemeteries in Rajouri.

Lastupdate on : Thu, 16 Aug 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 16 Aug 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 17 Aug 2012 00:00:00 IST




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