Five Army personnel convicted by a general court martial in the Machhil fake encounter case had a sigh of relief as a military court suspended their punishment of life imprisonment, according to the India Today. If the report is true, then it constitutes a travesty. It may be recalled that the Macchil encounter had turned out to be a fake one after it emerged that the three slain men were not militants. This fake encounter was held by observers of Kashmir and the conflict thereof to be a proximate cause or catalyst of the widespread and deep protests that engulfed Kashmir soon after. The quasi exoneration of the Macchil encounter accused besides constituting a travesty of justice also sends a signal to the people of Kashmir. The nature of this signal is that those who have a monopoly of force in Kashmir can get away with murder. Admittedly, Jammu and Kashmir is under the orbit and sway of a draconian law , the AFSPA, which gives or accords impunity to those in uniform and gives them a legal cover to kill. But, the Macchil fake encounter was a brazen, and in your face , perversion of justice. Three innocent men were killed by the accused army men for monetary gain in the form of a cash reward. The victims had been lured by the killers by way of offering them menial jobs and then killed in cold blood, as reports in the public domain testify. This cold blooded murder, after it emerged publicly, spurred the protest movement and aroused the passions of the people. Instead of swift acknowledgement and then punishment of this heinous crime, there was denial. Now that the perpetrators have almost been let off the hook, the inference that can be drawn by the people is that Kashmiri lives do not matter and that life in Kashmir is not only precarious but also contingent. All this adds insult to the injuries on the Kashmiri collective psyche which can emerge in different forms and avatars in the future. One premise of justice is that it accords closure to the victims if they are alive or to their closest kith and kin if the victims have passed away. Given that the victims of Macchil fake encounter were Kashmiri and killed , the whole collective conscious of Kashmiris needed to be accorded closure. But this is not to be. In the final analysis, however, what will accord real closure to the people, that is, Kashmiris, is that the conflict in and over Kashmir be resolved for good. Anything short of this would be in the nature of mere palliatives.