Kashmir: TRC, an insult for victims
‘TRC, an insult for victims’
Friday, 09 Sep 2011 at 10:33
Khurram Parvez is the coordinator of Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) that works to build alliances among Kashmiri civil society groups. He is the winner of Reebok Human Rights Award for his outstanding contribution to highlight the human rights violation in Kashmir.
In an interview with Rising Kashmir reporter, Mansoor Altaf, the activist talks about the recently released report by SHRC about unidentified graves.
1. How J and K Coalition of Civil Society view the disclosure of unmarked graves by State Human Rights Commission?
The revelation made by SHRC is the phenomena of both the mass graves and the unidentified ones. They have also acknowledged that the persons buried in these graves are those whom police has handed over to the local population or buried themselves.
Our group has found 2700 graves in 62 graveyards across north Kashmir, out of which 2373 are unmarked graves and mass graves. These graves contained 2943 bodies with such 100 graves that had more than two persons buried in them. The Police Investigation Wing of SHRC visited only 38 graveyards and found almost the same number of graves. We are demanding that SHRC should widen the investigation all over J&K and identify every single unmarked grave.
2.What about the formation of Truth and Reconciliation Commission announced by CM in this regard.
The Chief Minister of our state is confusing the issue by saying that this is the normal phenomena to bury dead without any tombstone rural Kashmir. By saying that he is discrediting his own state institution which is also saying that these are those graves which consist the dead handed over by police to locals for burial.
Why is CM confusing the public opinion when it is a very clear cut issue? This is the issue of those graves which government has no record. The government has no identification profile of those buried in these graves.Under the law the procedure should have been to maintain their DNA profile, take their finger prints, conduct post mortems and have photographic evidence. In any Police
station you won’t find any record of the persons buried in these graves. If they have not maintained a record, why should people believe them On the issue of constituting TRC, we believe it is being done to continue impunity. The impunity which today exists in the name of AFSPA and other provisions of CRPC but in future it will be there in the name of TRC. TRC is burial of justice.
3. Are you saying T&R commission is nothing but another time buying tactic of the government?
When Omar Abdullah said TRC should be created, it was the biggest insult to the family members of those who have disappeared. Firstly they were deprived of the justice, and now you are framing a Commission which will identify the perpetrator only to forgive him. When in India the ministers are jailed for breaking law, then why impunity is provided to those who are committing such heinous crimes here.
Under the TRC people will be asked to identify the unmarked graves of the disappeared relatives, when they do not even know whether they are dead or alive. They are mocking at the plight of these families.
After the SHRC report was leaked by the media, Mr. Abdullah said he will discuss it with Unified High Command which is a security group. When Indian parliament can convene a special session to discuss Anna Hazare’s fast, why cant the state assembly convene a session to discuss the issue of mass graves. On the one hand they are beating the drums of huge participation of people in Panchayat elections, but what they gave them in return?
4. But as per CM those buried in the unidentified graves are the foreign militants killed during the encounters?
As per the SHRC report, around 574 people buried in these unmarked graves after being claimed as foreign militants were later identified as local residents. This is an idictment against the state authorities. That proves all who are buried in these graves are not foreign militants. Our group has studied 53 exhumations which government has ordered from time to time, we found among them 49 were local civilians, 1 was militant and the rest three were unidentified. So when majority of those exhumed were locals, it negates the theory that those buried are all foreign militants.
However we are not saying all of the buried are local civilians, we simply want to know who these people are. Government has to provide the record, as there are more than 8000 people missing in Kashmir who cannot disappear without any apparent reason. This gives a solid justification as either they are languishing in jails, army camps or buried in these graves.
5.What should be the proper procedure as per you to identify those buried in unmarked graves?
We are saying they should establish the identity with DNA profiling. SHRC is also saying the government should match the DNA with the families members of those who claim their relatives have gone missing. However DNA profiling is not enough. We want comprehensive forensic examination which will clearly ascertain the date of death of that person and the circumstances which led to his death.
The perpetrators who commit such crimes have impunity of AFSPA therefore they cannot be prosecuted. Unless the perpetrators are not prosecuted, the deterrence cannot be created to protect human rights.
7. But Omar has openly criticized the army for not cooperating with regard to ending the AFSPA?
Army cannot be prosecuted under the security of AFSPA, but what about the local police who are equally perpetrating the crimes and are not prosecuted. They are confusing people when they say, army doesn’t cooperate. But can I ask why police doesn’t respect the human rights that are not saved by any special law.
8.We cannot deny that there are some people who were killed by militant. So families of those who were killed or disappeared by militants, where will they get justice from?
Obviously from the government whose responsibility is to protect the life and property of people. If any militants have abducted some person, it is the responsibility of government to prosecute them.Also in case of Kashmiri Pandits, it is the
responsibility of government to identify the person who were involved in their killings and prosecute them accordingly. Our demand is that government should book all those who are involved in the killing or enforced disappearance of the civilians whether army men or some other.
But what they do is make someone a scapegoat. For example in the Surankote fake encounter, when army killed a mentally challenged person in the name of a militant they recovered a weapon from him, where did that weapon came from?