Page last updated at 16:25 GMT, Tuesday, 1 April 2008 17:25 UK

Kashmir police refuse body demand


Police in Indian-administered Kashmir have rejected a demand for the identification of up to 1,000 bodies, said to be buried in unmarked graves.

A Kashmir-based rights group says it has found the graves, which it alleges could contain the remains of civilians who went missing after their arrest.

A BBC correspondent has been to two of the sites said to contain the bodies.

The Indian army and militants have been accused of numerous human rights abuses in Kashmir in the past two decades.

The Association of the Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) has identified a dozen villages in the area around Uri, near the Line of Control that divides Kashmir, where it says nearly 1,000 unidentified people have been buried.

It has demanded that the bodies are identified.

'Foreign militants'

The BBC's Altaf Hussain says that one of the locations identified by the APDP is in Kichama village, 62 kilometres from of Srinagar, the summer capital of Kashmir.

He says that none of the more than 200 apparent graves there has anything to identify the names of the deceased.

The villagers say they have no idea who they were and that the police told them the men were foreign militants killed in fighting with the Indian troops.

The body of  Abdul Rehman Paddar being exhumed
Allegations of extra-judicial killings were made last year

According to the villagers, the bodies were either charred, or their faces were mutilated beyond recognition.

But they say the first two bodies exhumed within weeks of their burial were of two civilians allegedly killed in police custody in Srinagar.

The police officer accused of killing them has since absconded.

Last year, police in other parts of Kashmir exhumed at least five bodies of civilians alleged to have died in extra-judicial killings who the authorities said were foreign militants.

Investigation demand

A prominent human rights activist and advisor to the APDP, Pervez Imroz, says the Indian security forces have used the presence of foreign militants as a way of covering up custodial killings.

He says the government should come clean on the issue, by allowing an investigation by the International Commission on Disappeared Persons.

The inspector general of police in the Kashmir valley, SM Sahai, has dismissed the demand, saying the police have investigated all cases of disappearances reported to it and have registered cases for investigation wherever necessary.

The APDP says more than 8,000 people have disappeared in Kashmir in the past two decades.

The government has given conflicting figures, ranging from 3,700 to 111.

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