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Friday, 7 April, 2000, 15:41 GMT 16:41 UK
Kashmir dead 'were villagers'

The exhumation was carried out in the presence of relatives
Police in Indian-administered Kashmir say five exhumed bodies have been identified as villagers who went missing two weeks ago.

The bodies were of five men, killed by Indian security forces, who said they were militants who carried out a massacre of 35 Sikhs last month.

The bodies were exhumed to establish whether they were indeed militants, or villagers who disappeared shortly after the killings.


I can say for sure it is the body of my husband

Juma Khan's wife Roshan Jan
The BBC correspondent in Srinagar says forensic tests appear to confirm suspicions that the bodies were those of local residents.

Two bodies, which were exhumed and identified by local residents on Thursday, have been reburied.

But the families of the other three want to take the bodies to another cemetery, rather than the one where they had initially been interred.

Missing

Local Kashmiris allege that Indian security forces had picked up several Muslim men after last month's Sikh massacre.

They have not been seen since.

Pakistan in crisis
One of the bodies was identified on Thursday as Juma Khan who, locals say, disappeared after being picked up by the security forces.

"I can say for sure it is the body of my husband. I have spent my entire life with him," said his wife, Roshan Jan, who was present at the exhumation.

She said her husband was arrested by the security forces on the evening of 24 March and never returned.

"We found his turban and identity card at Pathribal on 28 March," said his son, Abdul Rashid.

Another body was identified as that of Zahoor Ahmed Dalal, who was killed by the security forces on 25 March.

Tension

The order to exhume the bodies came from Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah in a move to defuse tension in the region.


Curfew was lifted to allow residents to buy supplies
A demonstration to demand the exhumation on Monday ended with police shooting dead eight people, prompting widespread condemnation.

The authorities have suspended the police officers involved and set up an inquiry.

A week-long curfew in Anantnag - in place since the police shooting - continued on Friday.

It was lifted for a few hours on Thursday to allow local residents to buy food and other supplies.

"We had no milk left for our infants," said one resident, Jalaluddin Ahmed.

Dialogue call

A leading militant group in Kashmir, the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, rejected an apparent offer of talks from the Indian Government.

The offer was made by the Indian Home Minister, LK Advani, during a conversation with journalists.

A spokesman for the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen said they would continue their armed struggle until the Indian Government acknowledged the Kashmiris' right to a separate homeland.

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See also:

05 Apr 00 | South Asia
Kashmir bodies to be exhumed
04 Apr 00 | South Asia
Police suspended over Kashmir deaths
03 Apr 00 | South Asia
Kashmir protesters shot dead
25 Mar 00 | South Asia
Kashmir massacre suspect captured
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