At a time when the people of across Kashmir Valley needed some sort of respite from the continuing protests, the government should have come up with some extraordinary measures to help create peaceful environs.
However, no such move was initiated to ease out the tensions and help to cut down the level of protests, but on the contrary a military court dealt a severe blow to the fragile peace that seems to prevail in Kashmir for the time being.
The military court suspended the life sentences of five army men accused of killing three unemployed Kashmiri youths and then trying to pass them off as Pakistani militants in a stage-managed gunfight in Machhil sector along the Line of Control in April 2010.
The armed forces tribunal also granted them bail in the case related to the death of three civilians in Kashmir Valley in 2010 where the accused were dismissed from service and given jail terms.
Pertinently, Colonel Dinesh Pathania, Captain Upendra, Havildar Devender Kumar, Lance Naik Lakhmi, Lance Naik Arun Kumar from 4 Rajput Regiment and rifleman Abas Hussain of the Territorial Army were convicted in 2014 for human rights abuse.
The armed forces tribunal bench headed by Justice VK Shali suspended the punishment awarded to these personnel and granted them bail in the case.
Worse enough, the suspension of punishment means that the troops would be out of jail while the court would continue to hear the case on the trial conducted by the force against them.
It was on April 29, 2010, the three youths — Shazad Ahmad Khan (27), Riyaz Ahmad Lone (20) and Mohammad Shafi Lone (19) – were lured to the higher reaches of Machhil from their Nadihal village in Baramulla district on the pretext of jobs and good money as porters with the Army.
The three were then shot dead by soldiers of the 4 Rajput Regiment, then commanded by Colonel Pathania, in the staged encounter. The victims were dubbed as Pakistani militants killed while trying to infiltrate across the LoC.
What is notable is that the court martial proceedings, headed by Brigadier Deepak Mehra of 68 Mountain Brigade, was categorical in awarding the sentence convicting the men and then the report was sent to the Northern Command for confirmation.
Even the then Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had said that the Army was conducted a high-level internal probe to inquire into the incident transparently and book anybody if found guilty.
A defense spokesman in Srinagar at that time also said that a fast track inquiry to ascertain the facts has been setup and expeditious action to bring the guilty to book were underway.
The background of the case points out to the fact that the guilty army officials had no escape route as the crime they had committed had put the entire humanity to shame. Killing unarmed civilians and labeling them as Pakistani intruders is a criminal offence which no civilized society can tolerate.
If the military court has taken this decision, then why was the court martial proceedings report accepted at the first instance. The court martial proceedings had put it on record that the matter has been proved beyond doubt that the army officials were involved in the killing of civilians.
Besides, they had committed another offence by seeking favours and promotions for the ‘brave’ act they had committed.
The military courts decision will no doubt go a long way in establishing the fact further that justice has been eluding the hapless people in Kashmir Valley.