Amnesty seeks thorough probe by Centre and protection to witnesses
The Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) said on Tuesday that the report of its police wing about bodies buried in unmarked graves at 38 sites in north Kashmir, had neither been finalised nor had it been endorsed by it.
Two days after the report was published in newspapers, the SHRC in a statement said: “An impression has been created by the Print Media that the J&K SHRC has given its recommendations/final report to the Government with regard to a matter titled unmarked graves in North Kashmir, which is pending disposal before the Commission.”
Signed by the Secretary, SHRC, it clarified: “As yet no final findings/recommendations/report has been issued/endorsed by the Commission to the Govt. The Commission will make appropriate recommendations and suggest action to the Government once the matter is fully heard, considered and adjudicated by the Commission in due course of law.
“Matter related to the unmarked graves came up before the Commission on August 10, wherein the Commission had directed issuance of the inquiry report copy submitted by the SSP of Investigation Wing of the Commission to the parties for filing their rejoinders or further responses.
“The next date of hearing in the matter had been fixed before Division Bench of Justice Syed Bashir-ud-din and Javaid Ahmad Kawoosa on September 09, 2011.”
Urgent action urged
Meanwhile, Amnesty International in a statement urged “urgent action” as the police report “confirmed the existence of unmarked graves of disappeared persons.”
It urged the Centre to “initiate thorough investigations into unmarked graves throughout the State. All unmarked grave sites must be secured and investigations carried out by impartial forensic experts in line with the UN Model Protocol on the disinterment and analysis of skeletal remains.”
Amnesty also urged the State government to ensure the “safety of the 62 witnesses” who had given statements to the SHRC police team. It demanded that the witnesses, along with relatives of the disappeared persons, local human rights defenders and members of the police investigation team not be pressured, intimidated or subject to any reprisals.
“The Governments of India and Jammu and Kashmir must ensure that all past and current allegations of enforced disappearances are promptly, thoroughly, independently and impartially investigated and that, where there is sufficient evidence, anyone suspected of responsibility for such crimes is prosecuted in proceedings which meet international fair trial standards,” it said.
Meanwhile, official sources said the Unified Headquarters meeting chaired by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah also discussed the issue.