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Macchil Fake Encounter: Army Tribunal Suspends Life Term Of Five Convicted Army Personnel

July 27, 2017 | By

Srinagar:  As per the media reports the Armed Forces Tribunal has on Tuesday suspended the life sentence of five convicted army personnel including a Colonel and a Captain who were convicted by a General Court Martial in 2014 for staging the killing of three innocent Kashmiri civilians at Macchil in 2010 and branding them as foreign militants for brass medals and cash rewards.

The three civilians — Shazad Khan (27), Shafi Lone (19) and Riyaz Lone (20) of Nadihal village in Rafiabad had been lured to an army camp at Kalaroos in Kupwara where they were subsequently killed in a staged encounter during the intervening night of April 29 and 30, 2010 at Sona Pindi in Machil sector on the Line of Control.

This move commensurates with the mass arrests and crackdown of the Kashmiri pro-freedom leaders by the NIA earlier this week. It is said that all these are the countermeasures initiated by the Indian state after the union home minister Rajnath Singh in May 2017 stated that the BJP government is working on a ‘final solution’ of the Kashmiri movement for self determination.

This statement of union home minister Rajnath Singh precedes the current chain of events unfolding in Kashmir valley.

To prove that these three civilians were foreign militants, the armymen had painted the face of Shafi Lone — the youngest among the three -– with black colour to show he had beard and then taken the picture of his face for records. The fake encounter was exposed by J&K police investigation after the families of the victims filed a missing report, media sources said.

Under pressure due to huge public uproar in  Kashmirr valley the Army was forced to  initiated court martial proceedings in December 2013 after the findings of a court of inquiry report by the then Commander of 68 Mountain Brigade, Brigadier G S Sangha. After the court martial led by Brigadier Deepak Mehra of 68 Mountain Brigade concluded its proceedings, the Army’s Northern Command had confirmed the sentence in 2015, making it the first case in Kashmir where army personnel were awarded life terms for their involvement in a fake encounter.

Family members and relatives of Machil fake encounter victims protest against suspension of life sentence to convicted army men outside DC Office Baramulla.(Express Photo)

The then Commanding Officer of 4 Rajputana Rifles, Colonel Dinesh Pathania, Captain Upendra, Havildar Devendra Kumar, Lance Naik Lakhmi, Lance Naik Arun Kumar had challenged their sentence before Armed Forces Tribunal.

In a jubilant mood over release of the killer soldiers their defence council Major Anand Kumar (retired) said “Their (life) sentence has been sentenced and they will be out of jail in a day or two. This is a huge victory for us.”

“(the then) Omar Abdullah government (in J&K) had pressurized the Congress government at Centre and that is why this happened. We are confident that the entire case will be thrown out”, he claimed.

Furthermore, he maintained that the matter was listed before the Armed Forces Tribunal last week. “We argued for the suspension of the sentence because the army court has not done justice,” he said. Kumar said that “it is a case of circumstantial evidence where the chain of evidence has to be complete”.

“The evidence was that one Bashir Ahmad had taken these three persons to the army who killed them. But Bashir was not examined in General Court Martial. This had broken the chain,” he claimed.

The DNA samples of only two among the three men (killed in Machil fake encounter) had matched (with their kin) while the first FIR was also lodged about missing of two persons only. “They (convicted army personnel) have been granted bail and they will be out of jail soon. For Col Pathania, Aman Lekhi had appeared before Armed Forces Tribunal,’’ he further adds to his claim.

Although this staged encounter wasn’t the first such fake encounter in Kashmir where army, paramilitary or police men had killed civilians and dubbed them as foreign militants, Machil fake encounter probe had exposed a complex narrative of counter-insurgency where greed and penchant for brass medals had become a common cause between a group of army officers and their local collaborators, reads a quote from a report published in the Indian Express (IE).

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