Mass Graves

A mass grave is a grave where many bodies are buried together.A mass grave may be identified as containing more than one, and usually unidentified, human cadaver butthe graves are constructed by local gravediggers and caretakers who bury the bodies individually, keeping in mind the Islamic rituals.

Mass graves are a result of crimes against humanity, war crimes, or genocide. The intent of a mass grave is to execute death with impunity, with intent to kill more than one, and to forge an unremitting representation of death.

The graveyards entomb bodies of those murdered in encounter and fake encounter killings since 1990. These graves include bodies of extrajudicial, summary, and arbitrary executions, as well as massacres committed by the Indian military and paramilitary forces. Maximum of these graves are unmarked with bodies of unidentified and unclaimed people, with no record of their identification or any link to anything. After dying in custodies, the bodies of the victims are routinely handled by military and paramilitary personnel, and also the local police. The bodies are then brought to these graveyards primarily by personnel of the Jammu and Kashmir Police. These graveyards have been placed next to fields, schools, and homes, largely on community land, and their effect on the local community is daunting.
The Indian Armed Forces and the Jammu and Kashmir Police frequently claim the dead buried in these unmarked graves to be "foreign militants." They claim that the dead were unidentified foreign or Kashmiri militants killed while infiltrating across the border areas into Kashmir or travelling from Kashmir into Pakistan to seek arms training.Exhumation and identification of these unidentified graves have not occurred in majority of cases. Where they have been undertaken, in various instances, encounter killings by Armed Forces or the local police across Kashmir have, in fact, been authenticated as fake encounter killings. In instances where, post-burial, bodies have been identified, two methods have been routinely been used to identify the bodies which are 1. Exhumationand 2. Identification through the use of photographs.

The people killed by the forces are usually Muslims, but they also include Hindus and Sikhs too.

In the enduring conflict, 6, 67,000 military and paramilitary personnel continue to act with impunity to regulate movement, law, and order across Kashmir. The Indian state itself, through its legal, political, and military actions, has demonstrated the existence of a state of continuing conflict within Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir.

All in all mass graves have been identified all over Kashmir by human right activists believed to contain bodies of thousands of Kashmiris of enforced disappearances. A State Human Rights Commission inquiry in 2011, has confirmed there are thousands of bullet-ridden bodies buried in unmarked graves in Jammu and Kashmir. Of the 2730 bodies uncovered in 4 of the 14 districts, 574 bodies were identified as missing locals in contrast to the Indian government’s insistence that all the graves belong to foreign militants. According to deposition submitted by Parvez Imroz and his field workers in 2011, the total number of unmarked graves was more than 6,000.

There haven’t been any forensic examinations of the bodies buried in unmarked graves and mass graves, in order to determine the circumstances and timeframe of death. Identifying the circumstances of death, established through forensic examinations, will greatly assist the processes of prosecution. No DNA profiles have been collected and analysed by international bodies, because the credibility of forensic science laboratories in India have repeatedly been held in question, nor has there been any reparation and compensation for the families of the victims of human rights abuses in Jammu and Kashmir not just be individualized, but collectivized, so that communities, neighbourhoods, and villages can heal and break their isolation. Monetary compensation to the next of kin are calculated as ex gratiarelief, and not particularized according to the circumstances of death and the affect the death has had on the family. Relief is calculated based on the complex task of quantifying loss of life and providing psychosocial and economic rehabilitation to family members.

Independent Commission of Inquiry have never been involved by a relevant panel of international experts to investigate unknown and mass graves, including those with backgrounds in forensic and cultural anthropology and human rights law. None of the people at higher authority has approached The Commission of Inquiry to the process and draw on the local knowledge of impacted communities. For this purpose United Nations Special Rapporteurs have to be permitted and invited to visit Jammu and Kashmir to observe and process the matter themselves and find an ultimate solution on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, Arbitrary Detentions, Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Violence Against Women, Its Causes and Consequences, and Extrajudicial, Summary, or Arbitrary Executions. An investigation commissioned by the SHRC hasn’t been yet extended to include each site of unknown and unmarked graves documented by IPTK in north Kashmir, and beyond, to all twenty districts in Jammu and Kashmir. In particular, the investigations have to take place in Anantnag, Budgam, Ganderbal, Kulgam, Pulwama, Shopian, and Srinagar districts in Kashmir province and in Doda, Poonch, Rajouri, and Reasi districts in Jammu province.

There is no accountability for the noticeable procedural negligence and misconduct in the work undertaken by the local police. The improper investigations undertaken by the police and other state investigating agencies are not held accountable, and these investigating agencies require re-examination and new investigations in a comprehensive and ethical manner across all districts of Jammu and Kashmir. On top of this there are special laws and provisions of immunity that authorize the military and paramilitary forces to act with impunity in Kashmir. With no ban on practises of torture the lives of people in Kashmir is much more endangered. In Kashmir, between 1989-2011, the actions of the military and paramilitary have resulted in over 8,000 enforced disappearances and 70,000 deaths. Human rights violations in Kashmir are concomitant to the impunity of militarization and state violence, and the dangers militarism imposes on civil society.