Activists for indentifying Kashmir graves of 4 Westerners killed in 1995

Srinagar: A group of Jammu and Kashmir rights activists have appealed to the state rights panel to order the identification of the graves of four Western trekkers that police claimed had been killed by their kidnappers in July 1995.

The International People’s Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Indian-administered Kashmir (IPTK) and the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) Friday filed a petition before the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) here seeking the inclusion of the four western trekkers kidnapped and later killed by their ‘Al-Faran’ abductors in the list of missing persons since their dead bodies have still not been found.

Kashmir nameless graves

In July 1995, six foreign trekkers including John Childs (US citizen), Dirk Hasert (German national), Don Hutchings (US citizen), Keith Mangan (British national), Hans Christian Ostro (Norwegian national) and Paul Wells (British national) were kidnapped from the mountains of south Kashmir.

Authorities said the six foreigners had been kidnapped by the ‘Al-Faran’ outfit, which was a front name for the Harkat-ul-Ansar terror group operating in the Kashmir Valley during the mid and late 1990s.

John Childs had managed to escape from the kidnappers on July 8, 1995. The dead body of Hans Christian Ostro was found on August 13, 1995 and the authorities had informed the relatives of the other four foreign trekkers that they had been killed by their kidnappers and buried somewhere in the forests.

The petition has sought that the state crime branch findings in this case be made public, it be ascertained whether a final investigation report in this case was submitted to a court of law or if the final report had been withheld, to ascertain under whose orders the report was withheld.

The petition has also sought directions from the SHRC to identify the grave site of the four foreigners claimed to have been killed by their abductors as they were killed in the south Kashmir forests as per the authorities.

In a book titled, “The Meadow, Kashmir 1995 – Where the terror began” published by Harper Press on March 29, 2012 written by Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark, the authors have claimed that the four kidnapped westerners were killed on December 24, 1995 in the remote twin villages of Mati and Gawran, a five hour drive away from the south Kashmir town of Anantnag.

The authors of the book claim their research is based on the records of the state crime branch investigations into the case.


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