Buried Evidence documents 2,700 unknown,
unmarked, and mass graves, containing 2,943+ bodies, across 55 villages
in Bandipora, Baramulla, and Kupwara districts of Kashmir, based
on applied research conducted between November 2006-November 2009.
The graveyards investigated by International People’s
Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Indian- Administered Kashmir (IPTK)
entomb bodies of those murdered in encounter and fake encounter killings
between 1990-2009. These graves include bodies of extrajudicial,
summary, and arbitrary executions, as well as massacres committed by the
Indian military and paramilitary forces.
Of these graves, 2,373 (87.9 percent) were unnamed.
Of these graves, 154 contained two bodies each and 23 contained more
than two cadavers. Within these 23 graves, the number of bodies ranged
from 3 to 17.
A mass grave may be identified as containing more
than one, and usually unidentified, human cadaver. Scholars refer to
mass graves as resulting from crimes against humanity, war crimes, or
genocide. If the intent of a mass grave is to execute death with
impunity, with intent to kill more than one, and to forge an unremitting
representation of death, then, to that extent, the graves in Bandipora,
Baramulla, and Kupwara are part of a collective burial by India’s
military and paramilitary, creating a landscape of "mass burial."
Post-death, the bodies of the victims were routinely
handled by military and paramilitary personnel, including the local
police. The bodies were then brought to the "secret graveyards"
primarily by personnel of the Jammu and Kashmir Police. The graves were
constructed by local gravediggers and caretakers, buried individually
when possible, and specifically not en mass, in keeping with
Islamic religious sensibilities.
The graves, with few exceptions, hold bodies of men.
Violence against civilian men has expanded spaces for enacting violence
against women. Women have been forced to disproportionately assume the
task of care-giving to disintegrated families and undertake the work of
seeking justice following disappearances and deaths. These graveyards
have been placed next to fields, schools, and homes, largely on
community land, and their affect on the local community is daunting.
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." They claim that the dead were
unidentified foreign or Kashmiri militants killed while infiltrating
across the border areas into Kashmir or traveling from Kashmir into
Pakistan to seek arms training. Official state discourse conflates
cross-border militancy with present nonviolent struggles by local
Kashmiri groups for political and territorial self-determination,
portraying local resistance as "terrorist" activity.
Exhumation and identification have not occurred in
sizeable cases. Where they have been undertaken, in various instances,
"encounter" killings across Kashmir have, in fact, been authenticated as
"fake encounter" killings. In instances where, post-burial, bodies have
been identified, two methods have been used prevalently. These are 1.
Exhumation; and 2. Identification through the use of photographs.
The report also examines 50 alleged "encounter"
killings by Indian security forces in numerous districts in Kashmir. Of
these persons, 39 were of Muslim descent; 4 were of Hindu descent; 7
were not determined. Of these cases, 49 were labelled militants/foreign
insurgents by security forces and one body that was drowned. Of these,
following investigations, 47 were found killed in fake encounters and
one was identifiable as a local militant.
IPTK has been able to study only partial areas within
3 of 10 districts in Kashmir, and our findings and very preliminary
evidence point to the severity of existing conditions. If independent
investigations were to be undertaken in all 10 districts, it is
reasonable to assume that the 8,000+ enforced disappearances since 1989
would correlate with the number of bodies in unknown, unmarked, and mass
The methodical and planned use of killing and
violence in Indian-administered Kashmir constitutes crimes against
humanity in the context of an ongoing conflict. The Indian state’s
governance of Indian administered Kashmir requires the use of discipline
and death as techniques of social control. Discipline is affected
through military presence, surveillance, punishment, and fear. Death is
disbursed through "extrajudicial" means and those authorized by law.
These techniques of rule are used to kill, and create fear of not just
death but of murder.
Mass and intensified extrajudicial killings have been
part of a sustained and widespread offensive by the military and
paramilitary institutions of the Indian state against civilians of Jammu
and Kashmir. IPTK asks that the evidence put forward in this report be
examined, verified, and reframed as relevant by credible, independent,
and international bodies, and that international institutions ask that
the Government of India comply with such investigations.