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Amnesty Asks India To Probe Kashmir Graves

PTI 23 Aug 2011, 17:11:05 IST

Srinagar, Aug 23: Amnesty International has urged India to allow an impartial probe into hundreds of unmarked graves in  Jammu and Kashmir after a State Human Rights Commission report confirmed they contain more than 2,000 bullet-riddled bodies, including hundreds of local residents.

Amnesty International said the investigation of graves in three regions also needs to be widened to all of Jammu and Kashmir.

"All unmarked grave sites must be secured and investigations carried out by impartial forensic experts," the London-based group said in a statement late Monday.

The Jammu-Kashmir State Human Rights Commission said in a recent report that 2,156 unidentified bodies were found in graves in three northern mountainous regions, while 574 other bodies in the graves were identified as local residents.

The commission's report is the first official acknowledgment that civilians killed in the two-decade conflict may have been buried in unmarked graves, but stops short of confirming that suspicion, long held by local residents and rights groups.

Previously, officials insisted that all the bodies were of outside militant fighters.

J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah has proposed a truth and reconciliation commission be set up to probe all killings since Kashmiri militants launched their uprising in the state in 1989.

"The commission should be assigned the task to probe all the killings in the state. Whether the killings were carried out by militants or security forces, it needs to be probed," Omar Abdullah said.

In 2008, a rights group reported unmarked graves in 55 villages across the northern regions of Baramulla, Bandipore and Handwara, after which researchers and other groups reported finding thousands of single and mass graves without markers.

Indian officials set up the commission to investigate and also began a separate police probe, the findings of which have yet to be released. AP