'SHRC must dig up grave truth'

Greater Kashmir

Families Of Missing Persons Move Fresh Petition Before Commission, Seek DNA Profiling Of Buried Bodies

Srinagar, Aug 30: At the time when the Jammu and Kashmir Government has sought closure of State Human Rights Commission probe unmarked graves in Kashmir, more than 500 families of disappeared persons Thursday filed a fresh petition in the Commission seeking DNA profiling of the bodies buried in such graves in north Kashmir.
 Recently, the State Government submitted a 27-page Action Taken Report (ATR) in the Commission saying that the matter would be investigated by the yet to be constituted Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which has been awaiting establishment for the past many years.
 However, an amalgam body of parents of disappeared persons—the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP)—today on the eve of International Day of Disappeared Persons raised serious doubts over the government’s intention to probe the unmarked graves issue. The APDP submitted a fresh petition in the Commission with around 507 documented cases of alleged enforced disappearances belonging to different villages of Baramulla and Bandipora districts.
 The families of the disappeared persons fear that their loved ones might be buried in these unmarked graves across Jammu and Kashmir. “Therefore it is imperative that the government carries out investigations into these unmarked graves through available means of investigation like DNA testing and other forensic methods,” the memo of the petition reads.
 The APDP has sought SHRC’s intervention to probe all the enlisted cases of disappearances and requested the Commission to direct the state investigation agencies and concerned police stations to ascertain their whereabouts.
 The APDP has moved the application through its legal advisor, Advocate Parvez Imroz, program coordinator, Khurram Parvez and spokesperson, Tahira Begum.
 “Out of 507 cases of enforced disappearances submitted today to SHRC, 369 are pertaining to Baramulla district while 138 are from Bandipora district. These persons have been disappeared since 1989 under various circumstances,” the petition said.
 The petition alleged that the persons have mostly been subjected to enforced disappearances by the state forces including Army, BSF, CRPF, Government gunmen, Jammu and Kashmir Police. “Some cases were disappeared in unknown circumstances by unknown agencies while militants were also been responsible for disappearing cases,” it said. 
 Last year, an investigation team of the state Human Rights Commission, after a three-year probe, had found out more than 2000 unmarked graves in north Kashmir, rekindling hopes of families of people who had gone missing in the Valley.
 Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah had supported the call for Truth and Reconciliation  Commission and the DNA profiling of bodies in thousands of unmarked graves in state and had asked relatives of people who have disappeared to give blood samples to see if there is a match with bodies buried in these graves.
 However, the ATR report submitted by the government has put onus on victim’s families to identify the graves of their missing relatives and only then government would exhume the bodies and carry out DNA tests and profiling. Relatives say this is an impossible task.