SRI NAGAR: The Northern Command Chief of the Army has confirmed the life imprisonment awarded to six soldiers, including two officers, by an army court for their involvement in the killing of three youth in a 2010 fake encounter in Machil, North Kashmir.
“General Officer Commanding (GoC) in Chief, Northern Command, Lt Gen D S Hooda has confirmed the sentence of the Summary General Court Martial in the Machil fake encounter case,” Defence spokesman, Northern Command, Colonel S D Goswami said.
The Summary General Court Martial had awarded a life term to six army men — Colonel Dinesh Pathania, Captain Upendra, Havaldar Devendra Kumar, Lance Naik Lakhmi, Lance Naik Arun Kumar and Rifleman Abbas Hussain — for their involvement in the fake encounter in Machil sector along the Line of Control in the border district of Kupwara.
Sources said the convicted army men and officials could now be handed over to prison authorities after the completion of legal proceedings against them.
The army personnel could now appeal in the High Court, the sources confirmed.
In April 2010, the Army had claimed they had killed three foreign militants in Machil sector as they were trying to infiltrate into the Valley.
However, after public uproar claiming the three were civilians from Baramulla area, the Jammu and Kashmir government ordered a police probe. The police inquiry established that the deceased —Mohamad Shafi, Shehzad Ahmed and Riyaz Ahmed — were unemployed youth of Nadihal, Baramulla and were lured by an army informer who promised them jobs.
The police inquiry revealed that the trio was shot dead by the army men. They named nine people including the army men in the charge sheet in July 2010 with charges under Sections 302 (murder), 364 (abduction), 120-B (criminal conspiracy) and 34 (common intent) of the Jammu and Kashmir Ranbir Penal Code (RPC).
Police then handed investigations to the army, which decided to pursue the inquiry into the incident.
The Army initiated court martial proceedings in December 2013 based on the findings of a court of inquiry report submitted by then Commander of 68 Mountain Brigade, Brigadier G S Sangah.
The Police had also arrested three other persons, Abbas Shah, the Territorial Army jawan Basharat Lone and Abdul Hamid Bhat, in the case. They will stand trial once the final report of the Army is submitted before the Chief Judicial Magistrate in Sopore
The killings triggered outrage across the Valley, and a six-month long unrest in 2010, in which 123 people died.