Report says bodies of 2,600 found in Kashmir

By Aijaz Hussain
Associated Press / December 3, 2009

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SRINAGAR, India - Nearly 2,600 bodies have been discovered in single unmarked and mass graves throughout mountainous Indian Kashmir, human rights activists said yesterday, alleging some of the dead were civilians killed by security forces.

More than a dozen Kashmiri rebel groups have been fighting for independence from India or a union with predominantly Muslim Pakistan since 1989.

Rights groups say there have been more than 8,000 disappearances since the rebellion began.

Researchers from the International People’s Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice, an Indian Kashmir-based rights group, said they found the graves in 55 villages during a three-year survey that concluded last month.

In a report titled “Buried Evidence’’ released yesterday, the group documented 2,373 “unmarked and mass graves’’ containing nearly 2,600 bodies. It said 177 of the graves contained more than one body.

“We’re not saying who is in each grave. But we’re saying these are unnamed graves and its imperative to investigate the issue by an independent international body,’’ said Angna Chatterji, one of the group’s members.

The report also said it found evidence of 47 civilians being killed by security forces, who later contended they were militants.

Human rights workers have complained for years that innocent people have disappeared and been killed by government forces in staged gun battles.

About 68,000 people have died in the 20-year conflict.

Ali Mohammed Sagar, Indian-Kashmir’s law and parliamentary affairs minister, said yesterday the government would respond to the report after reading it.