Will perform DNA testing to probe case of unmarked graves:Omar

Will perform DNA testing to probe case of unmarked graves:Omar

"The relatives of missing persons should come forward to give samples for DNA testing and give us a hint which area to look for," Omar said during the discussions on a motion about unmarked graves and the proposed Truth and Reconciliation Commission in the state.

The motion was submitted by ruling National Conference MLAs Mir Saifullah, Nazir Gurezi and Aijaz Jan. Omar said DNA profiling of the people buried in the unmarked graves, the existence of which was revealed in a report by SHRC's investigative wing, will take some time but the government had no intention of hiding the truth.

"It will take time. It will not happen overnight but a beginning can be made. It is not our intention to hide the truth," the Chief Minister said. He said setting up of his proposed Truth and Reconciliation Commission could answer people's questions about the unmarked graves and other issues that have come up during the 22 years of turmoil in the state.

"It will be the biggest CBM from India and Pakistan to the people of Jammu and Kashmir. I want the two countries to include setting up of the Commission in their dialogue process," he said.

Omar said there are questions about the start of militancy in the state, killing of political workers and innocent civilians which need to be answered. "However, till this (commission) happens, we cannot wait. The SHRC report is under our consideration and we will not ignore the recommendations...these will be acted upon," he said.

Omar also sought to dispel the notion that there were any mass graves existing in the state. "There are no mass graves. It is an easy word to use and even in the SHRC report there is no mention of mass graves. There are only few graves where two persons are buried but none with more than two bodies," he said.

Asserting that all the missing persons were not buried in the unmarked graves, the Chief Minister said there were many graves in which unidentified foreign militants were buried.

"For example, there is a media report about 2,500 unmarked graves in Poonch district. According to official information, there are 2,136 graves in Poonch. Out of these, 2,090 have foreign militants buried in them who were killed in encounters with security forces," he said.

Omar said during the conflict over the years, militants from 12 different countries were killed or arrested during counter-insurgency operations. "There were people from Chechnya, Russia, Sudan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Britain. Their families would also want to know where they are."

The Chief Minister also said that some of the persons reported missing from various parts of the state were living on the other side of the Line of Control (LoC).

"We had formulated a rehabilitation policy for the youth who wanted to return home which would have brought forth the truth. However, our neighbouring country will not allow them to come back," he said, adding, "We will have to find a way for their return without help from the neighbouring country".

Omar said not all the persons buried in unmarked graves were killed by security forces as there have also been instances where some of them were killed by militants.

"A Hizbul Mujahideen Pir Panjal Range (HMPPR) commander, who surrendered recently, took us to a place where two teachers killed by them were buried. The teachers were missing for more than six years," Omar said.

The Chief Minister said his government could have wished away the responsibility of the unmarked graves as these did not pertain to his tenure. "Most of the unmarked graves relate to the period between 1990 and 2006-07. While it would have been easy for us to say we have no responsibility but our responsibility starts from there."
Apparently referring to the mainstream political parties, he said there would be some tough questions to answer but "we have to be ready".

"I know that the period includes six years of our government (1996-2002), three years of the Opposition (PDP rule) and three years of our coalition partner (Congress-led government)," he said.

Pointing towards BJP, Omar said the national opposition party will also have to answer some questions as it was ruling at the Centre at some point of time during this period.

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