Srinagar, July 4: The Omar Abdullah government yesterday said thousands buried in unidentified graves in two Jammu districts were militants and not youths subjected to “enforced disappearances” — those who disappear from security forces’ custody.
The stand before the state human rights commission comes less than a year after an official inquiry into 38 graveyards in north Kashmir concluded they “may” be of people who vanished that way.
“There is every probability that these (2156) unidentified bodies buried in various unmarked graves…may contain the bodies of enforced disappearances,” the inquiry said. The controversy first erupted in 2009 when a rights group claimed it had found 2,700 unmarked mass graves containing 2,943 bodies in three districts of north Kashmir. The rights commission had largely confirmed the findings.
Other groups later claimed thousands of such graves in Poonch and Rajouri districts of Jammu, prompting the commission to seek a response from the government.
In its response yesterday, the state home department said 3,431 militants were killed in the twin districts, 2,080 of whom were unidentified. “It is clear beyond doubt that all those killed (3431) were combatants,” the department said in a written reply. “The police could not prepare and maintain the identification profile of the slain militants for the simple reason that these ultras were operating in the area other than their native places and most of them were foreign terrorists and operating under a code name.”