Srinagar: The military tribunal, which recently granted bail to five army soldiers convicted of killing three people in Machil fake encounter in 2010, has said it believed the dead were militants because they wore Pathan suits.
“The fact that the accused persons were militants … cannot be ruled out because they were wearing Pathan suits which are worn by militants,” Daily Hindustan Times reported quoting the bail order, the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) issued in favour of the convicted.
Pertinently The flowing Pathan or Pathani suit is a common men’s clothing across Kashmir.
The extra-judicial shooting came to be known as the Machil fake encounter in which three civilians were killed in cold blood by soldiers looking to collect a bounty on militants. Subsequently, an army court sentenced six soldiers, including a colonel, to life in jail but five of them went into appeal before the AFT in New Delhi.
The AFT also said they believed the three young men killed were not civilians because they had ventured too close to the de facto border between India and Pakistan, which is often used by militants to travel between the two countries.
“There was absolutely no justification for a civilian to be present at such a forward formation near LoC, that too during the night when infiltration from across the border was high,” the AFT bench said.
Three men – Shazad Khan (27), Shafi Lone (19) and Riyaz Lone (20) –were killed in a staged shooting in the early hours of April 30, 2010 at Sona Pindi in Machil sector of the LoC.
Later, investigations found the three were lured with the promise of jobs to an army camp in Kupwara where they were shot dead by soldiers looking to claim a reward for killing militants.
The bodies were buried in a local graveyard. The staged gun battle was later exposed by the state police after the families of the victims filed a missing report.
A subsequent army inquiry also upheld the police findings and court-martialed the soldiers.