In the 64 years since both India and Pakistan gained independence, the two countries have fought multiple hot wars and a never-ending hostile cold war over the disputed region of Kashmir. Both feel Kashmir is an integral part of their territory and are willing to go to any lengths to assert that belief. Lost in the midst of this wrangling are the hopes and aspirations of the Kashmiri people. We are only now beginning to discover what happens when the actual residents of Kashmir become mere pawns in a power play. The discovery of over 2,000 people buried in unmarked graves should not come as a surprise. Indian security forces have shown themselves to be ruthless and bloodthirsty in their repression. Of course, at times, the militants have been involved in acts of violence as well.
The first thing the Indian government must do is use all the resources at its disposal, especially DNA testing, to identify as many of the bodies as possible. The identity of the victims will give some clue as to who is responsible for their murders. Far more importantly, it will give the families of some of the over 10,000 people who have ‘disappeared’ in Kashmir a chance to learn the fate of their loved ones. Whoever the men in the unmarked graves might be, they deserve something more than to be written off as mere statistics in a bloody territorial dispute.
The Indian government has often made the implausible claim that those killed by their security forces and those who have gone ‘missing’ were all militants. This has been thoroughly debunked thanks to the tireless work of Indian and international human rights organisations. Hopefully, the discovery of these mass graves will lead to pressure on the Indian government to rethink its policy of mass detentions, military action, curfews and severe repression. Far more likely, though, is the possibility that the mass graves will be written off by India as the doing of militants, supposedly sent from Pakistan. Such a defiant posture would not only set back the barely-surviving peace process, it would be a grave injustice to the beleaguered people of Kashmir.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 23rd, 2011.
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@Someone: Do not confuse political issue with Humanrights issue. And if one thinks one can solve Kashmir issue without addressing the issue of partition itself is living in fool's paradise.
@naryana murthy.....the word 'denial' includes your outright rejection of the demands of Kashmiris themselves for independence. Stop beating around the bush and talking about Pakistan. Why dont you directly talk about those Kashmiris who themselves want to break away from your beloved India?
All the Indian apologists who have swarmed ET today, by denying the naked facts, are exposing their brought up and their baseless state's hollow claims of democracy.
What's happening in Kashmir is the biggest terrorism plot ever launched by a country in the world, seconded only by the Israeli atrocities.
The Israelis have a better standing, because at least they don't deny that they are butchers!
There, I fixed it for you. And you are most welcome.
Homeland? Really? How so? You say India occupied Kashmir, I say Persian & Afghan invaders do so for past 400+ years, and the Pandit's homeland has been destroyed by them!!
We still don't know what these graves are, and who these folks are. But, should it turn out they are indeed Kashmiri civilians, it is Indian human rights commission and judicial system that'll address the problem. Indian system won't bury its head in the sand, for independent institutions of the state won't let it.
But, how about checking the root of the problem? Why there weren't any violence in Kashmir till 1989, and post Afghan Jihad all of a sudden there was raise in Arms, infiltration and killings? Why did Pakistan supply arms to a civilian issue? Both in Afghanistan and Kashmir making both these places living hell?
You see guns in hands of civilians make a peaceful resolution impossible. A lesson India learnt after the LTTE fiasco. When will Pakistan learn its lessen?
@ Frank - the Pakistani liberals are sitting here wondering why we continue to waste our country's resources on such a worthless struggle. Why have we ruined the lives of Kashmiris ourselves? Ultra-nationalists with militant tendencies like you have spawned massive terrorism in our own homeland of Pakistan which is currently tearing the country apart yet you sit here and gloat.
You should get out and meet some bomb blast victim's families and see how they feel about our ISI and LeT and all these other people who have hijacked the Kashmir struggle.
The day we started creating terrorists is the day we Pakistanis lost the moral upper hand in the Kashmir conflict. We are no better than the Indians. Grow up please.
"Pakistan denies Indian allegations it helps the insurgents cross into Indian Kashmir".???????
@Frank: the last was they were in Karachi.
There were certainly multiple graves. These people were innocent Kashmiris murdered by the Indian army. The same Indian army that went into their homeland in 1947 claiming that it was only there to help them and would soon withdraw. Devilish behaviour! Nobody beleives in 'mass massacres' in Bengal anymore. Atrocities and crimes were committed but by both sides.
looks like indian govt is also liberal-fascist
@Kashif who writes...
I Second u, and i mean seriously where are Pakistani liberals now?"
I think Pakistani liberals are busy finding a solution to the problems of TTP, Karachi, Balochistan, FATA...etc
Don't you think that is a better job than wasting time on Kashmir?
I think it's about time that India set the records straight.
Let's first acknowledge that there have been atrocities from the army, whether we like it or not, and for whatever reasons.
These unmarked bodies must be exhumed and thoroughly tested and if a wrong has been done from the army, acknowledged and apologized. The government must also re-assure that there can be no such incidences taking place in the future.
There are plenty of troublemakers in the valley (terrorists, separatists, insurgents, Pakistani agents). And I will not be surprised is the bodies found are that of such troublemakers. We, perhaps, need a draconian law like TADA or POTA to deal with them and not kill them outside the system. These draconian laws are not liked by some people. But, we don;t have any choice but such laws to deal with these people. At the least, there would be nothing unconstitutional in that.
sarcastic: One blogger's comment made you to call it conspiracy theory and so on and you went on a tail spin. Look at the Pakistani conspiracy theories spun out by establishment. army, govt, madressas day in and day out. Kashmir is our mess, no doubt about it. Let Pakistan come clean on terrorism and keep its hands away from Kashmir, covert or overt and stop funding stooges like the Geelani mob, Fai crowd etc. Then visit kashmir, it will be heaven on earth like it used to be before Pak bloodied it. If it is hell now, it is Pakistan who put the fuel and oil on the bonfire.
@Ranjit...keep liviing in your Indian holier than thou attitude, bubble of conspiracy theories and self denial. AFter all, a nation in denial is a nation that can never move forward. We hope that Indians can learn to discard their conspiracies and have the guts to face the truth. Being a liberal is not all about Pakistan bashing. Facts are facts - and if Indians are creating a mess in Kashmir, theres no need to twist the tongue and the words around.
@Frank: Dear Frank why don't you send the relatives of these militants (and also the ten killed in Mumbai carnage) so that they can have a decent burial in their homeland (West Punjab)? Also take away the bodies of your soldiers killed in Kargil war. Indian Army had to bury them somewhere in face of Pakistan's apathy.
These are not 'mass graves'. These are unnamed graves spread across a large area. Not result of a mass massacres of the kind we saw in creation of Bangladesh. I am not justifying the killing of innocent, and surely the independent body like Indian human rights commission will not let the matters rest if there is a way to pursue it.
2,000 unidentified graves in over 2 decades of fighting Pak sponsored terror campaign; large numbers will be of Pakistanis/ Afghans remaining of local Kashmiris > indeed sad. But compare these numbers to those in East Pakistan or Balochistan, these are insignificant numbers. India's internal matters, India will take care of it.
I Second u, and i mean seriously where are Pakistani liberals now?
This should be an eyeopener- for Pakistani liberals who have been often visiting Delhi and telling their government to drop idea of Kashmir. But hats of to Indian progressives who have been pursuing mass graves cases in Kashmir for past few years.
The people sitting on unmarked graves in various graveyards are questioning them as of missing persons. I understand to establish the facts the GOI has decided to exhume few graves and match the DNAs with family members of missing persons of the area to understand the claims. The issue is under process. Till date not even a single corpus is matched with DNAs of the families of missing persons. It is India where such investigations are taken care. Will it happen in Pakistan …? Or just allegations.
The bodies are "laawaris" and are of Pakistani Punjabi, Afghan, Arab and other foreign jihadis. Pakistan govt, of course, will never acknowledge a Pakistani Jihadis body because that would mean acceptance of Pak hand in creating trouble in Kashmir.
Well the Indian govt has given you the information. All those bodies are of militants or those killed by militants. Why can't your country stop this militant business and discuss any issue fair and square? The militants have ruined your own country.. at least wake up now and do some thing about it rather than asking what Indian govt should do or not!
@Frank These bodies were being filled in graves in Occupied Kashmir in 1980's, and today, means the whole "Kashmir Jihad" thing made no difference.
Pakistan should have tried different policies in Kashmir, one based on peaceful activism against Indian rule, just like how Pakistan was founded. Instead we have 65 years of war and bodies of Kashmiris still being filled in graves by Indian Army.
Quote- "it would be a grave injustice to the beleaguered people of Kashmir".... what, may I ask, happened to the beleaguered people of Pakistan?, dying everyday in the most populous city, a city where every citizen of the country should be safe?
This editorial isn't entirely balanced. Armed Infiltration from Pakistan is a reality, and still a very current one. An Indian army commander overseeing gun battles with Pakistani infiltrators would want to place deceased individuals in unmarked graves if they were not able to identify foreign bodies. This would make sense since the "Kashmiri struggle" is really an Islamist cause - More land for more Muslims at the expense of non Muslims - and any grave sight announcing burial of undeclared militants would quickly become a "Mujahideen" grave sight. However, a large set of forces such as those of the Indian army is not perfect nor completely humanitarian - DNA tests should be ordered and matched in case extra judicial activities were ordered. This would also involve putting guilty individuals behind bars in case human rights violations were incurred.
Most of this is due to the undeclared war going on over Kashmir between Pakistan and India for over 60 years, with the majority of activities happening after Soviet withdrawal in Afghanistan. Human rights violations always happen during armed conflicts - that's no surprise. War is ugly and never pretty. What needs to be noted is that a governmental body has ordered the inquiry - when will Balochistan get justice for the mutilated bodies that appear on a daily basis?
The more pakistanis remain obsessed with kashmir and the fake ghazva e hind such bodies will be found in kashmir. If the people in pakistan really want peace in kashmir then why they don't stop training , funding and sending terrorists in kashmir
@ tribune tell us some thing about bodies in balochistan and bodies on the streets of karachi.... I think the killers were not hindus ......
Dear Pakistani Liberals, I really want to hear your views on these mass graves. Where have you all disappeared to? I am missing you all. :(