India to give due consideration to EU report on Kashmir mass graves

July 17th, 2008 - 9:22 pm ICT by IANS  

Brussels, July 17 (IANS) India is aware of the resolution adopted by a “miniscule” number of members of the European Parliament on missing people in Jammu and Kashmir and will give it the consideration “it deserves”, India’s ambassador to Brussels Dipak Chatterjee said Thursday. “The Indian government is aware that an urgent resolution on missing persons in Jammu and Kashmir has been adopted in the European Parliament by 54 MEPs who were present of the 785 MEPs. This resolution though by a miniscule number of MEPs will no doubt receive the consideration it deserves from the government of India.” Chatterjee told EuAsiaNews.

The ambassador’s comments came after the Subcommittee on Human Rights in the European Parliament (EP) held a hearing here Wednesday evening on the issue, a week after the EP passed a resolution calling for an urgent inquiry into claims that mass graves have been discovered in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir.

The two main guest speakers at the hearing were Angana Chatterji, co-convener of the International People’s Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Indian-Administered Kashmir, and Marjan Lucas, from IKV PaxChristi, which claims to be the largest peace movement in the Netherlands.

Another member of the Tribunal, Parvez Imroz, spoke via a video-link from Kashmir but due to a technical problem his voice could not be heard hence his message was distributed in print.

Chatterji, who said she was a citizen of India and resident of the US, showed a video clip of her recent visit to what she claimed were sites of hundreds of mass graves of unknown persons found in Indian Kashmir.

She alleged that she was followed and harassed by Indian security and intelligence personnel during her visit to Kashmir in June and that her 68-year-old-mother, who lives in Kolkata, is also being harassed. She also received “300 hate emails from Hindu nationalists”.

Referring to the EP resolution, Chatterji said Europe has taken the matter seriously and India should also take it seriously as the “issue will not go away”.

Lucas said the EP resolution is “very welcome and very important” but it does not change realities on the ground. She called for the issue to be addressed at the next EU-India summit to take place in France on Sep 29.

Parvez in his statement claimed that “we physically verified the existence of more than 900 such nameless graves” and said he expected from the EP that “our concerns and the general situation in which people of Kashmir find themselves in would be addressed in a just and institutional manner”.

Rense Teerink, deputy head of the Indian desk at the European Commission, said the European Union is following the matter closely.

“We have noted that the Indian authorities have been silent,” she said, adding that the current French EU Presidency has contacted the resident commissioner of Indian-administered Kashmir in New Delhi and expressed the EU’s concerns over the situation.

Neena Gill, chair of the EP’s Delegation for India, in her comments said the Indian government has carried out investigations into the allegations of mass grave and even dismissed 200 soldiers for human rights abuse.

The Indian media has also reported on the issue, she noted.

Baroness Emma Nicholson, author of the European Parliament’s Kashmir report adopted in May 2007, said it was very difficult “for us in the EU to track back and look at other people’s unidentified victims of insurgencies”.

She also said the term “genocide” must be used with great caution, describing it as an error of judgement in response to Chatterji’s reference of “genocidal violence” in Kashmir.

Helene Flautre, chairwoman of the subcommittee on human rights which is a subcommittee of the EP’s Committee on Foreign Affairs, said the Indian embassy was invited to participate in the debate but nobody came.

On their part, pro-Pakistani Kashmiri activists are claiming victory.

“It was very important after the discovery of the mass graves to have the European Union involvement so we generated enough support to have a resolution,” Barrister Majid Trambo, head of the Brussels-based Kashmir Centre, told EuAsiaNews.

However, other Kashmiri activists doubted the authenticity of the reports.

Sardar Shaukat Ali Kashmiri, Secretary General of the International Kashmir Alliance, said in Muslim societies anyone who dies is buried in graveyards.

Those who are rich Muslims put gravestones and signs on the graves, but the poor leave it unmarked, he explained.

“This report and video that they have shown of unknown graves does not prove in any way that they are unknown as they have gravestones on them. It is all part of a propaganda supported by the Pakistani establishment,” Shaukat Ali told EuAsiaNews.

“The situation in Kashmir is improving day by day,” he claimed.

Abdul Hamid Khan, chairman of the Balawaristan National Front, wondered how Chatterji and others go to the region and make a film and show it here if there was no freedom in Jammu and Kashmir.

“These reports are all lies,” he alleged.

Khan said if the Indian army wanted they could have easily hidden the mass graves.

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