MACHIL FAKE ENCOUNTER: Army returns conviction file without approval

MACHIL FAKE ENCOUNTER: Army returns conviction file without approval

The file has been sent back to the General Officer Commanding 15 Corps after it was studied by us and our legal branch.

Barely three months after Army’s General Court Martial convicted two officers and four soldiers for killing three youth in a fake encounter in Machil area of north Kashmir’s Kupwara district in 2010, the Northern Command of Army has returned the conviction file without its approval and sought details about the involvement of a Territorial Army man in the killings. 

“The file has been sent back to the General Officer Commanding 15 Corps after it was studied by us and our legal branch,” GOC-in-Chief northern Command Lt General D S Hooda told Greater Kashmir.

He said they have sought details of the involvement of Territorial Army man in the killings. “How can he (TA solider) be so innocent? The file will be approved once the role of TA solider is established,” Lt Gen Hooda said.

Shahzad Ahmad Khan, Riyaz Ahmad Lone and Muhammad Shafi Lone of NadihalBaramulla were killed in the fake encounter by soldiers of 4 Rajput regiment in Machil Sector on April 30, 2010, triggering Kashmir-wide outrage and condemnation. They were dubbed as “infiltrating militants” for promotions and awards.

After the killings, police registered a case while Army started its probe. After preliminary investigations, Army found the Commanding Officer and four soldiers of 4 Rajput regiment involved in killings. The Army ordered a General Court Martial in December 2013 and awarded lifer to Col DK Pathania, Major Upendra Singh, SubedarSatbir Singh, HavildarBir Singh, SepoyChadraban, and SepoyNarinder Singh. Abbas Hussain Shah of Territorial Army was however exonerated.

In November 2014, after the General Court Martial was over, the file was sent to the office of General Officer Commanding-in-Chief northern Command for final approval so that the sentence is promulgated. 

THE CASE

On April 29, 2010, two Ikwanis (government gunmen) Fayaz and Bashir along with Territorial Army rifleman Abbas Hussain Shah lured three youths from Nadihal village to Kalaroos in Kupwara district with the promise of job and money.   

In their statement to police, the family members of three youth said one Bashir Ahmad Lone, a government-gunman-turned SPO who worked as an informer for security agencies is involved in the disappearance of their kin. Later, police interrogated Bashir during which he identified another government gunman FayazIkhwani alias Gazi of TujjarShariefSopore. Ikhwani confessed before police that on April 26, 2010 they promised jobs to three boys and gave them Rs 5000 each while asking them to come next day for more money. He told police that when the youth approached “Bashir and me the next day, the latter took them along and since then they are missing.”

During the investigations, police ascertained the call records of FayazIkhwani which confirmed he was in Thayen village of Kalaroos in frontier district of Kupwara when the trio was killed in Machil and the bodies were brought to Kalaroos.

During the investigations, the police also recorded the statements of various people, including driver of the vehicle in which the three youth were taken from their native village of Nadihal before being gunned down in the fake encounter in Machil.

After the investigations, police charge-sheeted the CO and two Majors among 11 people in connection with the case. The charge-sheet was filed before a designated court in Sopore Tehsil of Baramulla district.

All of them were charged under sections 302 (murder), 364 (abduction), 120-B (criminal conspiracy) and 34 (common intent) of the Ranbir Penal Code (RPC) for conspiring and kidnapping three youths from NadihalBaramulla on the pretext of giving them jobs and later killing them in Machil on the Line of Control in Kupwara claiming they were militants.