One was awaiting details to the magisterial probe of last week’s encounter killings in Srinagar’s Hyderpora locality, where the victims’ families accused the security forces of allegedly using the civilians as human shields, but then all that one got to hear on November 23, was another shocking news.
Though nothing really shocks one in these fascist times but the arrest of the internationally known Srinagar based human rights activist, Khurram Parvez, can be termed a tragedy for the masses. He and his team have documented the blatant human rights violations taking place in the Kashmir Valley.
For the last over two decades he had been collecting facts about the missing persons, encounter killings, unmarked graves and the countless dead lying tucked in those graves. Unbothered about the major risks involved and not even halting when he lost one of his legs in a landmine blast, he continued unearthing details to the illegal arrests and detentions, disappearances, encounter killings, secret burials, unmarked graves.
In 2008, when unmarked graves were unearthed in and around Kashmir Valley, Dr Angana Chatterji – Professor of Anthropology at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco, and the co-convener of a rights watchdog, International People’s Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Kashmir – had stated in an interview given to me: ‘ We have released a preliminary report in Srinagar titled ‘Buried Evidence: Unknown, Unmarked, and Mass Graves’… We documented the existence of 2,700 unknown, unmarked, and mass graves containing 2,943 bodies, across 55 villages in Bandipora, Baramulla, and Kupwara districts of Kashmir. …They are unmarked as their identities are unknown, even as the Indian Armed Forces and the Jammu and Kashmir Police routinely claim the dead buried in unknown and unmarked graves to be foreign militants/terrorists. …. Gravediggers and community members tell us that the bodies buried in the 2,700 graves were routinely delivered at night, some bearing marks of torture and burns. ……..As an anthropologist, I can say we were able to identify graves within selected districts and inquire into instances where photographic verifications and/or exhumations had taken place. Our findings do not include the forensic study of the exhumations. The graves, we were able to ascertain, hold bodies of men with a few exceptions. Violence against civilian men has expanded spaces for enacting violence against women in Kashmir. The graveyards have been placed next to fields, schools, and homes, largely on community land, and their effect on the local community is daunting.’