Jammu and Kashmir: Uri gravedigger who testified in unmarked graves probe dies

Atta Mohammad had buried more than 200 bodies — mostly of young men, and all of them unidentified — and as caretaker of the “martyrs’ cemetery” of Bimyar in Uri.

Written by Bashaarat Masood | Srinagar | Updated: January 12, 2016 10:16 am
A Kashmiri man prays near an unmarked grave inside a martyrs graveyard in Srinagar, Kashmir. (Source: AP file photo) A Kashmiri man prays near an unmarked grave inside a martyrs graveyard in Srinagar, Kashmir. (Source: AP file photo)

The death of a gravedigger has never been mourned like this, perhaps. But then, Atta Mohammad was no ordinary gravedigger for locals. He had buried more than 200 bodies — mostly of young men, and all of them unidentified — and as caretaker of the “martyrs’ cemetery” of Bimyar in Uri, had testified as a witness in the government probe into the phenomenon of unmarked graves in the state.

Mohammad died of kidney failure on Sunday. He was 75.

“He received 235 unidentified, bullet-riddled bodies in his village over the last many years. Most of them were militants killed in encounters, according to the armed forces,” said Khurram Parvez, a human rights activist and coordinator of the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society. “He was perhaps the only gravedigger who did not mind being identified publicly despite being intimidated by the police.”

An accidental gravedigger, the Bimyar farmer became a caretaker of the cemetery after a police team appeared in the village in 2003 with two bodies and asked villagers to bury them. Mohammad and others buried them in a plot of barren land. Suddenly bodies started appearing every now and then and the barren land was turned into a cemetery, and Mohammad its caretaker.

 

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  1. R
    Rajesh
    Jan 12, 2016 at 10:36 am
    Kashmiris have been driven out of their homes. What remains their now are pigs from Arabia. They will eventually return to Arabia like you Swami.
    Reply
    1. K
      Kashmir
      Jan 12, 2016 at 6:17 am
      Indian illegal occupation will end,stan too has to concede its part illegally occupied and Kashmir's will attain their birth right.No force can bend our knees and we shall fight for generations to come for our FREEDOM.
      Reply
      1. M
        manoj mago
        Jan 12, 2016 at 12:01 am
        bharta ratna for him
        Reply
      2. S
        Syed Shere
        Jan 12, 2016 at 2:13 am
        Free Kashmir.
        Reply
        1. I
          Indian
          Jan 12, 2016 at 10:44 am
          When Pak JI-HADIS pumped in PA-KI ARMY is "knocked off" Kashmiris did nit know "name" the dead PA-KIS and had to be buried in "unmarked grave". ............ All dead PA-KI JI-HADIS should have been cremated and not buried.
          Reply
          1. S
            Swamy
            Jan 12, 2016 at 6:55 am
            Borders were not permanent then , borders will not be permanent in future.Flip pages of history and satisfy yourself.No nation remain united for long then disintegrate then again unite.This is cycle of destiny.Learn to understand point of view and vision of others, might be bitter today but better in long run.Kashmiris deserves long denied Justice, Kashmir's had opted for India as Patriots, what was returned to them were rigged elections, governor rule and dilution of their agreed rights under our own Indian Consution.Kashmiris will return to us, when given their full civilians and political rights.
            Reply
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