Sopore: The families of three youngsters killed by army in a fake encounter in Macchil sector of north Kashmir six years ago struggling to get justice. They say that despite appearing in courts twice in a month, the disposal of case doesn’t seem to be in sight.
The soldiers of 4 Rajput Rifles shot dead Three persons near Sona Pindi post in macchil sector of north Kashmir’s Kupwara district on April 29, 2010. The army claimed them to be foreign militants but a police investigation found that the slain youngsters were local residents –Riyaz Ahmad (22), Mohammad Shafi (19) and Shahzad Ahmad (25)—all residents of nadihal village of Baramulla.
The slain youngsters were lured by the Commanding Officer of the Regiment Col DS Pathania through a former special police officer, Bashir Ahmad Lone, and his accomplices with the offer of jobs as porters. The army reportedly purchased them for Rs 50,000 each and shot them dead to be passed off as foreign infiltrators. Col Pathania, Major Upender and four soldiers of the regiment later faced Court Martial proceedings.
The court martial awarded life sentence to six of its personnel found guilty in the staged encounter case. Even as the families of the victims describe the outcome of Court Martial proceedings as “welcome sign,” they say the justice would remain elusive to them until two civilians involved in the gruesome were not punished.
“Despite having meagre resources of sustenance, we are pursuing the case to bring the killers to justice,” Muhammad Yousuf, father of Riyaz Ahmad told Kashmir Reader.
“We are pursuing this case for the last six years but it is moving on a sluggish pace,” he said.
Ghulam Nabi, uncle of another slain youngster Mohammad Shafi said that it is difficult for them to pursue the case. “We are illiterate and belong to poor background. Sometimes we beg people for money to reach the courts on hearing dates,” he said.
He said that accused Bashir Ahmad Lone threatened the families outside the court premises. “This is becoming a security threat for us,” Lone said.
Machil fake encounter was followed by the 2010 unrest, in which around 110 protesters and bystanders were killed by the government forces.
Chief Prosecuting Officer Abdul Majeed said that around 40 cases are undergoing trial in Sopore court. “Each case will take time to complete. The legal procedure is to be followed. The good thing is that witnesses are coming forward to record their statements,” he said.