The Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission has asked the state government to complete investigating the 2,080 unmarked graves in Poonch and Rajouri districts within six months.
The order, passed on October 24, was in response to a plea filed by the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons. The organisation had told the human rights commission that there were 3,844 unmarked graves – 2,717 in Poonch, and 1,127 in Rajouri.
During the hearing, the commission, once again, said it acknowledged the presence of such unmarked graves and asked the government for a comprehensive investigation, which would include DNA tests of the bodies in the graves to compare them with living relatives of people reported missing in the region.
In 2011, too, the commission had directed the government to investigate the mass graves. At the time, a special investigation team of the commission said 2,730 unidentified bodies were buried in 38 sites across North Kashmir, The Hindu had reported then. In a 17-page report, the team had said, “It is beyond doubt that unmarked graves containing bodies do exist in various places in North Kashmir.”
The commission said the government had already accepted in 2012 that there were 2,080 unmarked graves in Poonch and Rajouri districts. “Therefore, the commission has no hesitation to issue the same directions which were already issued in the case,” it said.
On Thursday, the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons said the commission’s order came as a relief and accused authorities of delaying the investigation.
“Since 2011, instead of complying with the directions and recommendation of the commission for investigation into all the unmarked graves, the government continued to avoid undertaking any such investigations,” the organisation said, adding that the state said such an inquiry would lead to a law and order issue.