DNA profiling on bodies in J&K graves to begin

Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah speaks at the J&K Legislative Assembly in Srinagar on Tuesday.  

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Tuesday announced that DNA profiling would be done on the bodies lying in unmarked graves in the State.

He asked the families of persons who had disappeared to come forward, register FIRs and identify the relevant locations where samples could be taken.

Mr. Abdullah denied the suggestion that there were mass graves in the State and that foreign militants were buried there.

Replying to a discussion in the Assembly on the issue of the unmarked graves and the need for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), he said: “Family members of [those who had disappeared] should register FIRs in our human rights cell and leave their DNA samples so that we could start the process of identification. The families should also give us clues about which way to go. We will try to [unravel] whether their loved ones were buried in the graves or not. But all this won't happen overnight.”

Reacting to reports of the presence of mass graves in Poonch district, Mr. Abdullah said that 2,136 militants had been killed since 1990, of whom “2,090 were foreign militants and buried in graves with no [identification].”

“The blame for unknown graves doesn't lie with the security forces alone, but to the militants as well. Some Hizbul Mujahideen commanders from the Pir Panchal sector recently surrendered before the forces. One of them took us to where a teacher had been killed by the militants and buried in a grave. Similarly, many youth have been killed in their training camps across the LoC. We see many people getting killed in military academies, defence institutes, during training,” he said.

“There are no mass graves. The word is so easy to say. There aren't any graves comprising 200 or 300 people. There are unmarked graves having not more than two bodies buried in them,” the Chief Minister said in reply to a discussion moved by National Conference (NC) MLAs Saifullah Mir, Nazir Gurezi and Aijaz Jan. “An impression is being created that mass graves exist in J&K along the lines of those in Cambodia, where Pol Pot buried 1,000 people in one grave.”

Mr. Abdullah sought to dispel the impression that every person who had disappeared in Kashmir was dead. “Some disappeared people are living in Pakistan and Pakistan occupied Kashmir [PoK] as drivers, shopkeepers and labourers. Some of them have married and have kids as well,” he said.

As per official records, he said, only 17,000 civilians had been killed over the past 20 years. “But separatists put the figure in lakhs.”

He said militants of 12 nations were either killed or arrested in the State since the onset of armed insurgency. “As per my information, militants from Russia, Sudan, Britain and Chechnya were killed or arrested. Their families also need the answers.” He said workers of many political parties were killed and that the NC topped the list.

“I reiterate that a TRC should be constituted. India and Pakistan should keep it on their dialogue agenda. It will be the biggest-ever Confidence Building Measure (CBM) between the two countries,” Mr. Abdullah said.

Motion rejected

Earlier, the question hour could not be taken up in the House as the Opposition, the People's Democratic Party (PDP), wanted the adjournment motion to be taken up. They had moved the motion to discuss the issue of mass graves and killings in the State.

Despite the Speaker's attempts to convince them that a discussion was already slated, they did not allow the House carry on with business as usual.

The Speaker rejected the motion and all PDP members boycotted the business for the day.

PDP president Mehbooba Mufti said that though the NC continued with its traditional attitude of muzzling the voice of the Opposition both in and outside the State Legislature, it could no longer ignore the arrival of the PDP on the political scene.

She was speaking after her adjournment motion in the Legislative Assembly was disallowed amid stiff opposition by Treasury Benches.

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Printable version | Jan 22, 2022 9:06:07 AM |

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