In 2007, a local group, the Association of Parents of Disappeared People, said it had found 940 'nameless graves' in 18 villages in Uri district, which neighbours the Pakistan-administered zone of Kashmir. —Reuters/File photo

SRINAGAR Authorities in Indian administered Kashmir on Tuesday estimated the number of missing people in the state after decades of unrest at 3,400, less than half the figure suggested by rights groups.

Official figures released in the state assembly said 3,429 persons had disappeared between 1990 and July 2009, with only 110 persons missing after arrest by the security forces.

Leading local and international rights groups have suggested over 8,000 people have disappeared in the region, with the majority having been arrested by Indian security forces.

The government, which gave no further detail about the missing people, also ruled-out forming a commission of inquiry to probe all the cases of disappearances, a statement released in the assembly said.

In 2007, a local group, the Association of Parents of Disappeared People, said it had found 940 'nameless graves' in 18 villages in Uri district, which neighbours the Pakistan-administered zone of Kashmir.

Amnesty International has urged the government to determine if any of the graves contain the bodies of those listed as missing by local rights groups.

Indian security officials contend many of the missing had crossed over to Pakistan to join the insurgents and say the graves are those of 'unidentified' rebels killed in action.

The insurgency has left more than 47,000 people dead by official count, while rights groups put the toll at 70,000 dead and disappeared.

However, the number of insurgency-related deaths in the state has fallen sharply since the start of a slow-moving peace process between India and Pakistan. —AFP

Updated Aug 18, 2009 12:00am

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