Srinagar: The J&K High Court will next month resume hearing into a petition seeking DNA testing of bodies in thousands of unmarked graves in Kashmir.
The orders for posting the plea in March was passed by Justice R. Sudhakar after hearing advocate Babar Qadri, representing the petitioner Zahoor Ahmad Mir, son of Ali Muhammad Mir, a 45-year old contractor who was killed in custody allegedly by the notorious government gunman Papa Kishtwari and his associates in 1996.
The petition was admitted by the court in 2012 and then the government was directed to file its response within four weeks. Thereafter, the government was granted some more time for the response. However, as per the submissions by advocate Qadri, the plea was not heard for five years and as such government’s response remained unknown. However, a foreign news agency in September 2012, while quoting a report of state’s home department, reported that the government insists that all those buried in the unidentified mass graves were militants and that if families wanted DNA tests, they would have to identify both the graveyard and the exact grave where they believe their disappeared relative was buried.
Zahoor Ahmad Mir, the petitioner seeks court’s directions for necessary steps to conduct DNA testing of all bodies in unnamed graves so that the body of his father can be identified and recovered.
Police have already completed the investigations against the accused and has produced charge-sheet before the trial court, he says.
“The petitioner is struggling to get the body of his father since 1996, when he was abducted, to perform his last rites but his efforts have went waste and the State Human Rights Commission’s report over the existence of mass graves here has raised a hope for the petitioner, who has filed a petition to recover the body of his father,” he says.
Mir, a resident of Brein Nishat, left home to buy some medicines for his ailing father Rajab Mir on June 26, 1996 at about 10 am but never returned, his son Zahoor says.
Next day Zahoor lodged Mir’s missing report at Nishat Police station. According to him, his father was kidnapped and subsequently killed by Papa Kishtwari.
“My father is missing since the day he was abducted and is buried in some mass or unmarked grave in Kashmir.” The petitioner also seeks direction for a compensation of Rs 5 crore.
In 2011, a special investigation team (SIT) of State Human Rights Commission confirmed 2,156 unidentified bodies in 38 mass graves across three districts of north Kashmir. All these bodies, according to the SIT inquiry, were handed over by the police to the locals for burial with bullet injuries and were classified as “unidentified militants.”
It had also called for DNA sampling of bodies to compare them with the next of kin of people who have disappeared.
The SIT inquiry report had quoted former British Prime Minister William Gladstone to make a telling point: “Show me the manner in which a nation cares for its dead and I will measure with mathematical exactness, the tender mercy of its people, their respect for the law of the land and their loyalty to high ideals.”
Civil Society groups like Association of Parents of Displaced Persons (APDP) say that nearly 10000 people have been subjected to enforced disappearance.