J&K Machil fake encounter case: Five armymen get life term

Indian Army on Thursday said that five of its personnel have been found guilty and recommended for life imprisonment for their involvement in a staged shootout in Jammu and Kashmir's Kupwara district in 2010.

J&K Machil fake encounter case: Five armymen get life term

Srinagar: Over four years after the Machil fake encounter that fuelled widespread unrest in Kashmir Valley, five army men including two officers were sentenced to life for gunning down three youths and labelling them as militants, a decision welcomed by Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Thursday as a "watershed moment".

Official sources said that the five army men including the then Col D K Pathania, who was the Commanding Officer, and Captain Upendera were held guilty by the Summary General Court Martial (SGCM) which sentenced them to life imprisonment, as per PTI.

The others held guilty were Havaldar Devinder, Lance Naik Lakhmi and Lance Naik Arun Kumar. Another accused, a Subedar, has been let off by the SGCM.

"The sentencing by the SGCM is pending confirmation from the confirmation authority after which the action would be considered legally complete," an army official said.

In 2010, three youths - Mohamad Shafi, Shehzad Ahmed and Riyaz Ahmed, all residents of Nadihal in Baramulla district - were allegedly lured to a border area and shot dead.

The three youths were dubbed as Pakistani terrorists who attempted to infiltrate in the country.

However, residents had alleged that all three so-called infiltrators were unarmed civilians who were lured by some other civilians acting as sources for the Army by offering them jobs, after which they were taken to the LoC and framed as infiltrating guerrillas.

The Army had ordered a probe into the killing after the police filed a report, accusing a Major rank officer of entering into a criminal conspiracy with some locals to eliminate the three youths by labelling them as terrorists.

The court martial proceedings began in January this year and ended in September.

Col DK Pathania, Commanding Officer (CO) of 4 Rajput Regiment, and Major Upinder of the same regiment, were named as the main accused by the J&K Police in the April 30 Machil encounter case.

In the aftermath of the alleged staged shootout, protests and ensuing clashes with security forces erupted in the Kashmir Valley, which resulted in the deaths of at least 110 people in 2010.

Police registered a case in the alleged staged shootout and later charged 11 Army personnel for framing the three civilians as guerrillas and later killing them.

Meanwhile, J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah welcomed the order against the Army officials. Further expressing his views, Omar tweeted: “I hope that we never see such #Machil fake encounter type of incidents ever again & let this serve as a warning to those tempted to try.”

 

On the other hand, Amnesty International in a statement aid the decision was a "welcome measure" and "turning point".

(With Agency inputs)

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