A two-member team from Amnesty International arrived Monday on a rare visit to Kashmir to assess the human rights situation under the tough policy of Indian security forces, officials said.
The London-based Amnesty has in the past reported on human rights violations in the disputed Himalayan region.
The group in 2008 urged India to investigate hundreds of unidentified graves discovered by human rights researchers, saying they may contain the bodies of innocent people killed by Indian forces.
The two Indian members, Bikramjeet Batra and Ramesh Gopalakrishnan visited the house of jailed Muslim leader Shabir Shah and held a two-hour meeting with his wife.
The Himalayan region is at the heart of a decades-long dispute between India and Pakistan, who have fought two of their three wars over the issue since they won freedom from British rule in 1947.
More than 68,000 people, most of them civilians, have been killed in the uprising and subsequent Indian crackdown.
The team met aldo two top pro-freedom movement leaders Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammed Yasin Malik.
Mirwaiz, cleric at Kashmir's main mosque, welcomed the rare visit by Amnesty.
"Amnesty should focus on the ground situation in the territory, particularly the illegal detention of political figures and the disappearances of over 9,000 persons," Farooq said in a statement.
Meanwhile another key Muslim leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani said the watchdog should have sent "neutral individuals not those with Indian nationality."
Kashmiris see India as an “occupier” and accuse the ruling of systematic violations, killing dozens of civilians in Himalayan region.
Tens of thousands of Muslims have been killed since pro-independent moves grew against Indian rule in 1989.
In 1948, the United Nations adopted a resolution calling for a referendum for Kashmir to determine whether the Himalayan region should be part of India and Pakistan. But India has rejected to hold referendum in Kashmiri territory.
Indian security forces have been accused in the past of human rights violations, including rape and extrajudicial killings.
Authorities deny any systematic violations and say all reports are investigated and the guilty punished.
AgenciesLast Mod: 19 Mayıs 2010, 08:29