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Friday, 8 March, 2002, 14:47 GMT
Kashmir massacre samples 'faked'
Kashmir security force with body
The five men were killed a few days after the massacre
The government in Indian-controlled Kashmir has acknowledged that DNA samples taken from five men blamed for the masscre of 35 Sikhs two years ago were tampered with.

Those responsible for collecting and sending the samples had something to hide

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah
Samples were taken from the men only after protests in Kashmir by local people who insisted they were innocent, and were deliberately killed by the security forces in a stage-managed encounter.

The Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah now says it appears that fake samples were sent suggesting "that those responsible had something to hide."

The killing of the 35 Sikhs took place just hours before the then US President Bill Clinton arrived in India and was one of the worst examples of violence in the territory in recent years.

It was highlighted by Delhi to support its accusations that Pakistan sponsors militant attacks in Kashmir.


The state government ordered the samples to be taken from the dead men after protesters in Kashmir demanded an investigation into the affair.

The Sikh massacre led to big protests
Relatives of the dead men insisted their bodies be exhumed, saying that DNA tests would prove they were not foreign militants as claimed by the security forces.

But the laboratory in southern India to which the men's DNA samples were sent returned them, saying they were mislabelled and showed serious discrepancies.

It is not clear what errors were shown, but the Times of India newspaper said that some samples said to belong to female relatives in fact came from men.

In remarks to the Kashmir legislature on Friday, Mr Abdullah apologised for the injustice done and promised an investigation into the affair headed by a judge.

Mr Abdullah said fresh samples would be taken from the men's bodies.

'Encounter' allegation

At the time, the authorities insisted they were foreign militants from the Lashkar-e-Toiba and Hizbul Mujahideen groups - although the groups themselves denied any involvement in the Sikh massacre.

But allegations were made that they were in fact five local men picked up by the security forces and killed in a stage-managed encounter so they could be blamed for the massacre.

The Indian authorities have in the past been accused by human rights groups of summary killings and other abuses in Kashmir - charges the government always denies.

India has faced a militant insurgency in Kashmir since 1989.

Both India and Pakistan claim the territory as theirs.

See also:

25 Mar 00 | South Asia
Kashmir massacre suspect captured
23 Mar 00 | South Asia
Crackdown on Sikh protests
21 Mar 00 | South Asia
Safety fears for Kashmir's Sikhs
23 May 01 | South Asia
Q & A: Kashmir dispute
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