23 Aug 2011

2000 unidentified bodies acknowledged in Kashmir

6:34 am on 23 August 2011

An official commission in Indian-administered Kashmir says more than 2000 unidentified bodies have been buried in unmarked graves in the last 20 years.

It's thought to be the first time that a government inquiry has endorsed claims made previously by independent rights groups.

The Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission said that 2156 unnamed bodies have been buried in almost 40 graves .

Its report has not yet been formally submitted but it has been widely reported in the media.

The commission's investigation focused on four northern, mountainous districts.

The BBC reports independent human rights groups have long insisted that the number of unidentified dead merits further investigation.

Thousands of people have mysteriously disappeared over the last two decades and never been accounted for.

Some accuse India's security forces of abducting people, killing them and covering up the crime by describing the dead as unknown militants. The authorities deny such accusations.

Security forces say that the unidentified dead are militants who may have originally come from outside India. They say too that many of the local missing people have crossed into Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

The BBC reports it is unclear whether the government will act on the report's recommendations.

These include a call for an impartial investigation and moves to identify the bodies. That would be a slow and complicated process. The bodies would have to be exhumed and subjected to DNA tests.

Comparisons could then be made with DNA samples from the relatives of people who are registered as missing. This may confirm family links.