Govt asks SHRC to close unmarked graves file

Srinagar (Jammu & Kashmir): Asking State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) to dispose off the case of unmarked graves, the state government has said that the matter will be investigated by a yet to be constituted Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), the constitution of which is dithering from the past many years.

In its 27-page Action Taken Report submitted to SHRC August 16, the state’s home department maintains that most unmarked graves stand identified by respective police stations and the remaining belong mostly to unidentified militants killed in various encounters.

It further maintains that the government is open to a probe which includes DNA sampling to confirm the identity of the deceased. The report also traces measures taken by the government to investigate the matter.

It mentions that chief minister Omar Abdullah gave an idea about the TRC on the floor of the state legislature on March 5 last year. “He also raised the issue in National Integration Council meeting in New Delhi in September, last year.”

The report states that the TRC’s constitution requires consultation and broad consensus among stakeholders. “In view of detailed submission, the case of unmarked graves filed before SHRC may kindly be disposed off,” asks the Home Department in the report.

Pertinently, SHRC launched investigation into unmarked graves following a campaign by APDP and International Tribunal on Human Rights in Kashmir (ITHRK). An inquiry by SHRC’s investigative wing brought to the fore the fact that there are 2,156 unmarked graves at 38 sites in north Kashmir.

In another case, SHRC, August 13 passed strictures against the former IGP Kashmir, P S Gill saying he has failed to file his response in the abduction of six foreigners in 1995 by Al-Faran militants.

Commission’s division bench observed “P S Gill, non-applicant hasn’t till date responded to any communications by it. Taking adverse inference against Gill will visit him with harsh consequences.”

The Commission directed its Secretary to address independent communication to him and asked the Deputy Commissioner Anantnag to expedite submission of its report in the case.

“Master file retained in SSP Crime office has been gutted and reduced to ashes in a fire on September 11, 2010. SHO of Pahalgam police station has already submitted Ikhtitamis (closure reports) of FIR’ 66/1995, 67/1995 and 70/1995 before the Judicial Magistrate, Aishmuqam. If that is so, Secretary of the Commission shall call for the record of Ikhtitamis along with case diary files and allied documents from the court,” said the bench.

APDP and ITHRK had filed a joint petition in SHRC on April 6 seeking fresh probe into the case following disclosures in recently published book, “The Meadow: Kashmir 1995 - Where the Terror Began” that foreigners were killed on the directions of security forces.