There are extraordinary people who should not pass without being honored for their courage & profound human decency. Atta Muhammad Khan, a farmer & gravedigger, died on January 11th, 2016 at the age of 73 in his hometown of Chahal Bimbyar, Kashmir.
Atta became well-known in Kashmir following the release in 2008 of a report on mass graves by the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP). So far APDP has been able to document the existence of 7000 unmarked graves but the government has no records to show the identity of those buried.
The occupying Indian army would commandeer gravediggers to bury those it had murdered. Atta testified he had buried 235 unidentified bodies–all of which were bruised, defaced, bullet-ridden, or decomposed, including a six-month baby girl. He gave them all a proper burial & when possible he & other community members would retain belongings of the deceased to help identify them when their families came looking for them. As a result of this work, Atta suffered mental & physical trauma.
In a statement at his passing, the APDP hailed him for giving the deceased the dignity they deserved & said: “Atta Mohammad was amongst very few people who came out in the open to testify as witness. He was perhaps the only grave digger who did not mind being identified by his name publicly despite being intimidated by the police. He was very keen that his testimony should have been used by the government for conducting a credible investigation into the phenomenon of unmarked graves in Jammu & Kashmir.”
Photo is Atta Mohammad. May he Rest In Peace. Our deepest respect.
(This is the APDP report for those who would like to read it:http://www.europarl.europa.eu/…/DROI_080716_FactsUgrounden.…)