No Cover-up In Mass Grave Issue: Omar6 September 2011
Srinagar: Asserting that there would be no cover-up in mass grave issue, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah Tuesday said he has conveyed to Government of India (GoI) that “we need to help the victim families”. “We need to understand this mass grave issue. I think majority of graves in North Kashmir have no name stone or tomb stone. Most of the graves are linked with the FIRs and they could be of militants killed at LoC. They were buried according to Muslim rites,” Omar told NDTV in an interview. He said Gurez encounter was a case in point. “At least 15 militants were killed and they were buried according to Muslim rites. Before 20 years, nobody knew how the people buried in unmarked graves got killed. I am not pre-judging,” he said. Omar said he has always maintained that these graves have assumed significance. “Half widows and the victims of militancy deserve the answers. I am not suggesting that we need to cover up. There would be no cover up. What needs to be done is that some mechanism has to be worked out,” he said adding he was concerned as everyone buried in those graves was a ‘victim’ of human right rights violations. Stating that since majority of such cases were linked to FIRs, he said the government was conveying the same to State Human Rights Commission (SHRC). “We have asked the families of missing persons to come forward and cooperate with the government,” he said. Asked how government would go ahead with the issue, the chief minister said, “The government was considering options. We will wait for the final SHRC report. We haven’t received the report as yet. The only thing is we can’t ignore the report.” “I have conveyed to GoI that we need to help the victim families. If a family of any disappeared person claims that exhumation should be done, we will help them for DNA testing as well. We will be having no problem in this regard,” he said. Omar said Kashmir was going through a transition and the (region) has not reached at the post-conflict stage as yet. “Summer has passed off peacefully. We have still a month and a half left and I hope the days ahead will also be peaceful. I am having a good day today but there is no guarantee about tomorrow,” he said. Referring to Pathribal and Machil fake encounters, he said, “I think these are the cases that have seriously embarrassed us and put us on a back foot following the reluctance from the defense establishment. I have time and again raised this issue with GoI. I have recently taken up the issue of Surankote fake encounter with GoI. I discussed this point with the Defense Minister and have also spoken to Home Minister. I hope GoI will be doing something in this regard”. On AFSPA, Omar said, “Given the peaceful summer, we consciously decided to remove 40 bunkers. We did not want any tinkering with the intelligence or invite trouble. We have now started the process of identifying the areas, wherefrom acts like Disturbed Areas Act (DAA) could be removed.” Referring to amnesty for Stone pelters, he said, “The fact is that all children deserve a second chance as they are young. Hurriyat (G) chairman Syed Ali Geelani fought for release of his colleagues but ignored the stone pelters. I thought I owe something to this generation”. He said he do meet stone pelters occasionally as their fathers bring them before me. “Some of them have gone back to stone pelting in Baramulla district. Geelani visited Baramulla and his visit was followed by the protests,” he said. On interlocutors and their Autonomy ‘remarks’, the chief minister said, “I can’t pre-judge what interlocutors would end up with. I saw a report where they were quoted as favoring implementation of autonomy and on the very next day I saw their denial”. He said implementation of autonomy or 1953 position would be a beginning for a dialogue. “I believe it would set a base for a sustainable dialogue.” He said the interlocution has been a successful exercise. “The interlocutors did not confine themselves to the guest houses and instead visited places to meet people. Once they will complete the report, I believe GoI will have to fulfill the process of implementing it,” he said. Referring to resolution moved by MLA Langate in Assembly on Afzal Guru, Omar said, “I am neither a spokesman nor a decision making authority in NC. It is the party that will decide”. “I remember when Maqbool Bhat was hanged, what happened in Kashmir. I do have apprehensions about Guru’s hanging and I have convened the same to GoI. However, there is a legal procedure and we will leave it to President of India,” he said. He said hanging somebody is becoming a political issue as elections would be fought and lost over this issue. On Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), the chief minister said Pakistan needs to be taken on board. “There are lots of unanswered questions. I think it is an idea. Some people say TRC was a post-conflict but I can’t wait for that long. It is high time when we should give peace dividend to the people,” he said. “I want peace on militancy point of view and law and order point of view. We need to consolidate the peaceful time and we need to fulfill the promises”. On Panchayat elections, he said devolution of power is an important component of the power. Referring to tweeting, Omar said, “Why would I regret? What was wrong with a question I asked? There was more anger about my tweet. The leader of opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj is expressive twitter. We got a twitter minute after minute during their tiranga yatra. The BJP is looking at JK through a different prism”.