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Indian Kashmir to ID Bodies from Unmarked Graves

  • Peter Cobus

Farmer Atta Mohammed walks past unmarked graves in Kashmir, Oct. 7, 2009 (file photo).

Farmer Atta Mohammed walks past unmarked graves in Kashmir, Oct. 7, 2009 (file photo).

Indian Kashmir's top official says authorities will conduct DNA tests to identify the more than 2,000 bodies buried in unmarked graves linked to a long-running separatist conflict.

The chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir state, Omar Abdullah, said Tuesday relatives of missing people should provide samples to forensic experts for DNA profiling of the bodies. In remarks to the state assembly, he said the DNA tests will "take time" but authorities will not "hide the truth."

Indian Kashmir's State Human Rights Commission said last month it had uncovered 2,730 bodies buried in unmarked graves across the region during a three-year investigation.

Indian authorities previously insisted the dead were foreign militants killed in a two-decade-long Muslim separatist insurgency. But the commission said 574 bodies were identified as those of locals who disappeared during the conflict.

It called for the remaining 2,156 bodies to be identified.

Rights activists say at least 8,000 people have gone missing in Indian Kashmir since the uprising began in 1989. They say some of the missing were Kashmiri civilians killed by Indian security personnel in staged gun battles.

Rights group Amnesty International says Jammu and Kashmir lawmakers should press the state government to devote sufficient resources to DNA testing of the unidentified bodies from the unmarked graves. It accused the state government of "often" ignoring recommendations of the State Human Rights Commission in the past.

Kashmir, the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent, is divided between India and Pakistan and claimed in full by both nations.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.

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