Khuzdar mass graves: Commission rules out involvement of armed forces, agencies

Updated August 19, 2014

Email

Officials stand near the graves discovered in Tootak. — Photo by Fahim Siddiqui/White Star
Officials stand near the graves discovered in Tootak. — Photo by Fahim Siddiqui/White Star

QUETTA: The judicial commission formed to probe the mass graves discovered in Balochistan’s Khuzdar district on Tuesday absolved the armed forces and intelligence agencies of responsibility in the case.

Chief Minister Dr Malik Baloch had established a judicial commission headed by Justice Noor Muhammad Maskanzai of the Balochistan High Court to conduct an inquiry into the mass graves in the Totak area of Khuzdar district.

The news drew criticism from human rights groups, political parties and members of the civil society.

"No one has recorded any statement against the armed forces and security agencies," the report said. "No evidence of involvement of intelligence agencies has been found in connection with the mass graves," it added.

The commission, however, mentioned that it was the core responsibility of the administration to protect the lives and properties of the people, and that the recovery of mass graves was the result of negligence on part of the civil administration.

"There has to be no private check posts in the area," the report recommended, asking the provincial government to step up efforts to ensure rule of law in the region.

The judicial commission submitted its report to the government after conducting an inquiry into the incident.

According to the Home and Tribal Affairs Department, a total of 17 dead bodies were retrieved from the mass grave.

“The number of dead bodies in Totak is more than official figures claim,” Baloch nationalist leader, Dr Hayee Baloch told Dawn.

Read more here: Herald Exclusive: Mangled facts

In late January 2014, a shepherd had spotted the grave in Khuzdar’s Totak area.

The commission recorded the statements of 57 individuals in connection with the case but stated that only witness number 38 had recorded statements against intelligence agencies but that could not be verified.

The Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP) has rejected the report and termed it an effort to conceal facts.

"Security agencies are involved in killing and dumping of people in Balochistan," Chairman VBMP Nasrullah Baloch told Dawn.

Khuzdar is considered to be one of the most sensitive districts of Balochistan with targeted killings, bombings and rocket attacks having claimed scores of lives in the district and forced many to migrate to Sindh and other parts of Balochistan.