Srinagar: Families of the three youths killed in the Machil fake encounter Thursday demanded capital punishment to the guilty soldiers “so that it could serve as a deterrent.”
“Life imprisonment is too little a punishment for the murder of our brothers. The guilty must be hanged,” Firdous Ahmed Lone, brother of one of the slain youths, Riyaz Ahmad, told Kashmir Reader.
In Nadihal alone, where from the three youths belonged, nearly 10 people have been killed in fake encounters in the past 25 years, Lone said.
“Fake encounters had become an industry for army. The soldiers with the help of collaborators would lure youth with jobs, take them to the Line of Control, and kill them in fake encounters for awards and promotions. Even non-locals were not spared by the army,” he added.
Lone said the number of fake encounters came down after the killing of his brother and two others uncovered the “ugly truth of the stage managed encounters.”
“It was only after our brothers were martyred that the army restrained its men. Otherwise, not a single day would pass when soldiers would claim to have killed so-called militants,” he said.
He said over the last four years, army and its collaborators tried to dissuade the families from seeking justice. “Army threatened us after we turned down the blood money they had offered,” he said.
“We were threatened in our homes, in courts. However, we didn’t give up. We didn’t get justice after four year struggle but we have won half of the battle,” Lone added.
Extending his condolences to the families of more than 120 people who died in protests triggered by the expose of the fake Macchil encounter, Lone said, “The young boys laid down their lives for truth and justice. Justice should be done to them,” he said.
Showkat Ahmad Khan, brother of second slain youth Shehzad Ahmad, also expressed dissatisfaction over the court martial verdict. He said that army has been very soft to their men, who killed the three young men for monetary benefits.
“If army had to deliver justice, they should have given death penalty to the guilty,” he said. “The death sentence to the guilty could have served as a deterrent. It would have made soldiers to think 100 times before shooting any innocent dead,” Khan added.