Friday, 25 October 2013

Mass grave discovered in Kashmir

A human rights group in Indian-administered Kashmir Thursday claimed to have discovered mass graves in which more than 130 unidentified bodies have been buried.

Two mass graves containing nearly 130 unidentified human bodies were discovered by Voice of Victims human rights group in nearly four-month-long investigation in Sonawari area of Bandipora in north Kashmir.

The group credited the discovery to the assistance of locals who helped them in finding an unnamed graveyard in the area.

“An investigation team headed by Abdul Qadeer Dar, Executive Director visited the area and gathered information about the people who were buried in a graveyard in Bhat Mahle during the past 23 years,” Abdul Rouf Khan, the co-coordinator of the group, said.

“The troops and police used to bring bodies and hand over to the locals for burial. They revealed that the unidentified men were detained by the forces in nearby STF camp and after killing them they were handed over to local committee for burial,” he said.

Quoting a local, Manzoor Ahmad, Khan said the troops had once brought a body and handed over to him for burial. “While the forces identified him as a Pakistani militant, he later turned out to be a local resident of south Kashmir’s Kokernag. His body was exhumed a year later from the graveyard,” Khan said.

The VOV investigators also found that a person identified as Abu Hafiz, who was reported to be a resident of Pakistan and killed in an encounter at Safapora, Ganderbal was actually Abdul Rehman Padroo, a resident of Kokernag.

“He was a carpenter who was picked up by the forces in Srinagar on December 8, 2006, and later killed in fake encounter at Safapora. Police on January 28, 2007, clearly stated that he was killed by its Special Operations Group (SOG) in a fake encounter in Ganderbal and his body was exhumed from Bhat Mahle graveyard,” he said.

Locals have told the group that they are witness to burial of at least 20 charred bodied. “Once we refused to bury the unidentified bodies, armed forces started burying them inside the STF camp few meters away from the graveyard,” locals told the VOP investigators.

“50 bodies have been buried inside the SOG camp which is surrounded by government offices including a paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force camp. Once an infamous and cruel police inspector abducted and raped a teenage girl from the area and later killed her. She was also buried inside the camp. After the SOG evacuated the camp, her body was also exhumed,” the group claimed.

This is not the first time that mass graves have been discovered in the disputed Kashmir territory. From 2010-2012, a prominent human rights group in Kashmir claimed to have discovered a series of mass graves in various parts of Kashmir containing over 3500 bodies.

More than 10,000 are feared missing from Kashmir Valley in the last 24years of conflict with a majority of disappearances blamed on government forces.

“If the bodies buried in these graveyards are identified, many Indian troops and Kashmir police personnel involved in the killing of these people would be exposed and the victims will get justice for which they are waiting for a long time,” the group said.

Friday 25 October 2013


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