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In the infamous Machil fake encounter case of 2010, an Army court- martial has awarded life sentence to six of its personnel. This is the first case in the Valley in which Army personnel have been awarded life terms on such a charge
On April 29, 2010, the Army killed three youths in Machil sector of Kupwara district on the ground that they were foreign militants. The three youths- Shezad Ahmad, Riyaz Ahmad and Mohammad Shafi- were lured to LOC with the promise of job and money. They were made to come to Machil by a former special police officer, Bashir Ahmad Lone, and his accomplices. The youths were later on handed over to the Army personnel for the sum of Rs 50,000. The three were killed by troopers of 4 Rajputana Rifles near the Sona Pindi post. On May 28, bodies of the deceased were exhumed and on May 30, the Army ordered inquiry.
The J&K Police filed a charge sheet against an Army Colonel, two Majors, five soldiers and three civilians. The Army personnel against whom charge sheet was filed include Colonel D K Pathania of the 4 Rajputana Rifles, Major Upendra Singh, Major Maurya (Adjutant), Subedar Satbir, Hawaldar Bir Singh, Sepoy Chadra Bhan, Sepoy Nagendra Singh, Sepoy Narendra Singh and Abbas Hussain Shah of the Territorial Army.
All the accused personals were booked under sections 302 (murder), 364 (kidnapping), 120B (concealing design to commit offence punishable with imprisonment) and 34 (act done with common intention) of the Indian Penal Code. At that stage the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Sopore, issued a notice to the Commanding Officer of the accused army personal to either try the accused in the civil court or initiate court-martial proceedings against them.
In 2013, the Army ordered court martial proceedings against six of its personnel, including officers. In 2014, the Army court life sentences to six Army personal and sent to Northern Command for conformation.
In a statement on Monday, a Northern Command spokesman said those sentenced were Colonel Dinesh Pathania; Captain Opendra; Havildar Devender Kumar; Lance Naik Lakhmi; Lance Naik Arun Kumar; and rifleman Abas Hussain.
Mohammad Yousuf, father of victim Reyaz said, “Despite being from a poor background, we pursued the case and will continue to do so.”
The victims’ families have hailed the move, but said the justice remains incomplete till two civilians involved in the encounter are punished. As per The Indian Express, the deaths of three youths have left the family in financial constraint. Last year, when the court martial proceedings came to a conclusive end, not only human right activists applauded the judgement but even politicians across the country praised.