NEW DELHI- Indian government that is still grappling with high profile international diplomatic issues, emerging in the backdrop of the recent visit by the US President has been hit by a mega Human Rights mayhem that is going to hit country very hard globally in coming days, reveal the investigations of The Daily Mail.
According to these investigations, more than 100 human skeletons have been found in a locked room in a wing of the police station in the town of Unnao in northern state of Utter Pradesh (UP).
Over 10 bags with skeletons were recovered from a locked room of a building, which used to be a hospital, local police reported. The room was used as the hospital’s post mortem area and has been locked since the building was converted into a police station.
The Indian Ministry of Home Affairs has sought a detailed report from the state government on this issue.
It is worth mentioning here that earlier last month, around 80 dead bodies were found floating in the river Ganges in Unnao. Police, at that occasion said that the bodies were given traditional water burials by families that could not afford a Hindu cremation but there were no evidences available with the state police to support this claim.
The skeletons, found in the recent episode, were kept in 22-25 sacks scattered all around in the room, located opposite the police quarters and Mahila police station. Reports said a few painters were working inside the Reserve Police Lines premises, when they curiously peeped into the room through an open window and saw human remains piled up in huge number. They immediately alerted the police who rushed there and sent the remains to the post-mortem house.
Inspector General of Police (law and order) Satish Ganesh has come up with a novel claim before media as he said in Lucknow that the room where the human remains were found was part of the post-mortem house that was operational at the police lines till 2008. “Actually, it was the room for storing viscera samples and other human remains like unidentified mutilated bodies which were sent for postmortem and had to be preserved for further action on the basis of court orders,” the IG told media.
“The dilapidated building was declared condemned and notified for demolition. The place was desolate and someone may have taken photographs of the stored skeletons through a broken window. However, things will be clear only after Unnao SP sends his report,” the IG added.
Reports emerging from Unnao say that as panic prevailed in the area, no one initially dared to enter the room that emanated unbearable stench. It was only with the help of some class IV civic employees arranged by the Unnao police that investigators entered the room and the remains were taken away to the district hospital mortuary.
This is the second incident where state government functioning has come to be questioned. On January 13, nearly 80 human bodies were found floating near Pariyar Ghat of Unnao in the Ganga and the Centre had ordered a probe.
The Daily Mail’s investigations indicate that there is a state of shock amongst the natives of the neighboring Himalayan states of Jammu and Kashmir where Indian military and paramilitary forces are ruling under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), a license to kill while fighting an insurgency or freedom struggle in the valley. The valley that stands disputed between the 2 nuclear arch rivals under the UN resolutions is home to a vast majority of those who are engaged in struggle through political, guerilla warfare and diplomatic tactics to get freedom from what they call illegal Indian occupation. The abductions, illegal detentions, custodial killings and mysterious disappearances of the locals by AFSPA –protected Indian security personnel are permanent features in the area. Global human rights organizations including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Red Cross Organization have been highlighting this issue for the past many years. With the emergence of latest episode at UP Police compound, the natives in the Himalayan valley who have not seen their dear ones for years as they are reported missing and suspected to be in illegal detentions of Indian Security Forces or even feared dead and dumped, are in an acute state of shock as they fear that the skeletons found in UP could be of their dear ones.
The Daily Mail’s investigations indicate that the natives of IOK have all the reasons to believe that the UP skeletons could be of those who are reported missing from different parts of the IOK for years with no traces at all. They recall the discovery of mass graves in IOK in the past where thousands of bullet-riddled and tortured corpses of the missing locals were found. They see the latest development as part of the same series.
The Daily Mail’s investigations indicate that in 2008, when the mystery of missing persons in IOK touched new horizons, global HR organizations got very alarmed. According to these investigations, at this stage, Amnesty International urged the Indian government to launch urgent investigations into the mass graves, which were thought containing the remains of victims of human rights abuses by the AFSPA-shielded Indian troopers in the valley.
The Daily Mail’s investigations indicate that a year later, the Srinagar-based Association of the Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) released a report titled Facts under Ground. The report detailed the existence of multiple graves which, because of their proximity to Pakistan controlled-areas, are in areas not accessible without the specific permission of the Indian security forces. By that time, the graves of at least 940 people were reported to be discovered in 18 villages in Uri district alone.
The report further highlighted that more than 8,000 persons had gone missing in Jammu and Kashmir since 1989. The Indian authorities put the figure at less than 4,000, claiming that most of these went to Pakistan to join armed opposition groups.
Unlawful killings, enforced disappearances and torture are violations of both international human rights law and international humanitarian law, set out in treaties to which India is a state party. They also constitute international crimes.
Amnesty International also called on the Indian government to unequivocally condemn enforced disappearances in Jammu and Kashmir and ensure that prompt, thorough, independent and impartial investigations into all sites of mass graves in the region are immediately carried out by forensic experts in line with the relevant UN Model Protocol.
The Daily Mail’s investigations further indicate that this global pressure forced India to form an HR Commission to probe the matter that came up with its conclusion after three years. The finding of this body left Indian government with no other options but to admit and confirm the existence of mass graves in IOK, containing bodies of more than 2,000 people, reported missing by the locals for years.
India’s Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission released a report saying a three-year investigation uncovered 2,156 unidentified bodies in 38 sites in the region.
Rights groups, in the backdrop of this development, very strongly blasted Indian security personnel of killing Kashmiri civilians in staged gun battles and passing them off as militants when handing the bodies to residents for burial.
The Daily Mail’s investigations reveal that on the other side, he government rejected wide-scale DNA testing of bodies in thousands of unmarked graves despite pleas by the families of those who disappeared during two decades of fighting in the restive region.
A report by the state’s home department insisted that all those buried in the graves were militants and said that if families wanted DNA tests, they would have to identify both the graveyard and the exact grave where they think their disappeared relatives were buried.
The random collection of DNA from the graves would be an “academic exercise” that would “hurt the local sentiments,” the report said.
The Daily Mail’s investigations further indicate that Khurram Parvez, an official with the local Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons, criticized the report as “yet another attempt by the government to obfuscate the truth and sustain impunity.”
The report was a response to a three-year investigation by the state-run Human Rights Commission confirming that 38 burial sites in the north of the Himalayan territory contained 2,156 unidentified bodies. The Human Rights Commission said 574 other bodies found in the graves were identified as local residents, and it urged widespread DNA testing.
The investigations reveal that the then IOK Home Secretary said the government wasn’t hiding anything but that the wide-scale effort could not be done.
“We can’t go on digging all the graveyards,” Secretary B.R. Sharma said. “If not pointedly specific, at least, we need some clue, some direction from relatives of the missing people where they think their disappeared kin might be buried.
“There is a need for closure to all this,” he continued. “We also want truth to come out.”
The Commission’s findings clearly reversed India’s longtime insistence that the dead were foreign militants killed in the fight against Indian rule in Kashmir, which is divided between India and Pakistan and claimed by both in its entirety.
Police could not ascertain the identities of the dead rebels because they operated in disguise and in remote regions far away from their homes, the report said.
The Daily Mail’s investigations indicate that after this highly embarrassing exposure of the issue, the Indian government and specially the military commanders of the country, with suggestions of Intelligence officials of both RAW and IB, decided that in future, the dead bodies of the separatists of the IOK which would be killed in ‘organized encounters’ or during torturous interrogations, would not be dumped inside the IOK but would be dumped in adjoining or suitable states and region to avoid any such probe in future. It was after this decision by RAW army and IB that despite the constant increase in the number of enforced disappearances in the valley a development like the surfacing of mass human graves has not taken place inside the IOK while the emergence of dubious dead bodies and skeletons in the adjoining states has increased dramatically while the current Indian government is also holding DNA testing of these bodies and skeletons.
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