Srinagar, Feb 04: Advocate Parvez Imroz, President Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) and Patron APDP, and three lawyers accompanying him were illegally detained by personnel from police station Boniyar for more than one hour on Sunday.
The members and activists of APDP were visiting the grave site of Atta Mohammad Khan in Bimyar village of Chehal area of north Kashmir’s Baramulla district to pay tributes and to lay a tombstone on his grave and to offer prayers, an official JKCCS statement read.
The event, as per the statement, was planned to remember Atta Mohammad and his contribution to the discovery of the phenomenon of unmarked and mass graves in Jammu and Kashmir. As a result of the police action, the event could not be held and APDP members, around 15 persons (mostly family members of the disappeared) could not pay their respects to Atta Mohammad Khan.
The police were waiting for Advocate Imroz and his team at Bimyar village. They informed him that he and his team had to accompany the police to the Boniyar police station to meet with the Station House Officer.
“At the police station the names and personal details of each person were recorded and their phones were taken away. Finally, after about an hour they were informed that the Station House Officer would not be able to meet them and directed them not to hold the planned event. No formal order or reason was provided for the action of police,” the statement added.
It said the “state action today is yet another reminder of the manner in which the Indian State has used violence to curb all human rights in Jammu and Kashmir. Not only does the State refuse to recognize the phenomenon of enforced disappearances, or find the disappeared and punish the perpetrators, the State refuses to allow any activity that serves to memorialize and respect the disappeared.”
Atta Mohammad, who died at the age 75, on 10th January 2016, following a prolonged illness, has buried more than 230 unidentified bodies in the Bimyar graveyard between 2003 and 2009.
A farmer by profession, Mohammed’s selfless efforts ensured a dignified proper burial to many unidentified bodies. He played a significant role in identifying unmarked graves in the Valley. APDP members and activists first met Atta Mohammad in 2005 while researching the issue of unmarked graves – a phenomenon where unidentified dead bodies, often bearing marks of violence, were buried across grave sites in Jammu and Kashmir after being handed over to locals by armed forces as bodies of “foreign militants”.
Gravediggers such as Atta Mohammad are recorders of evidence as the unmarked graves represent sites of possible crimes. Unmarked graves are also closely tied to the phenomenon of enforced disappearance in Jammu and Kashmir. According to conservative estimates more than 8000 people have been subject to enforced disappearances since 1989.
Beginning from 2008, APDP documented 7000+ cases of unmarked graves in five districts of Jammu and Kashmir and found prima facie evidence that some of these unidentified bodies belonged to those disappeared civilians. Despite the SHRC confirming the presence of unmarked graves and recommending investigations, the State has refused to take any action on the issue.