SRINAGAR: The State Human Rights Commission in Jammu and Kashmir has asked the Mehbooba Mufti government to set up an independent body to investigate the issue of mass graves, bringing back memories of thousands of victims of enforced disappearance in nearly three decades of turmoil in the state.

In it’s latest order, Bilal Nazki, the newly elected chief of the rights body, has ordered the government to set up an “independent, representative body” that will go into “all questions regarding unmarked graves and disappeared persons” in the state.

Making a slew of recommendations regarding building and preserving a DNA database from those buried in these graves, the order, dated October 24, has asked the state government to file it’s compliance report within six months.

According to independent human rights bodies, like Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) based in Kashmir, more than 8000 persons have been subjected to enforced disappearance since an armed insurgency erupted in early nineties.

A report filed by the state government before the commission, says there are 2080 unmarked and unidentified graves in Poonch and Rajouri districts while there are other 1351 graves in other parts of the state, some of which were documented by APDP in it’s comprehensive report on the phenomenon of enforced disappearances in J&K.

The state Commission has also investigated the issue and confirmed the presence of unmarked and unidentified graves in Kupwara, Baramulla and Bandipora districts of North Kashmir.

Recommending “compensatory justice” to the families of those who have disappeared since 1989, as a short-term measure to serve the “national interests” (sic), the SHRC in it’s new order has asked the government to bring to justice the perpetrators of crimes against people of the state.

Welcoming the order, the APDP convener, Khurram Parvez, said there are also 2373 unmarked graves, in 62 graveyards spread across Kupwara, Baramulla and Bandipora districts.

“Since 2011, the government has been avoiding the issue under the pretext of it's incompetency to investigate the matter and that any investigation would lead to a law and order problem in J&K which is utter mockery to the principles of truth and justice," he said.

The issue of enforced disappearance is a sensitive one, especially in Kashmir, where the political turmoil has produced a generation of half-widows, described as those women whose husbands were taken away by armed forces but never returned to them.

"Only an independent and impartial investigations will give a sense of closure to those whose kin have been subjected to enforced disappearance since early nineties,” Khurram said.