Srinagar: The military tribunal that recently granted bail to five army men convicted of killing three youth in Machil in a fake encounter in 2010, has said in its order, “It can’t be ruled out that the trio were militants as they were wearing the Pathani dress.”
The Pathani dress is a common dress worn by men in Kashmir.
According to Hindustan Times, the copy of the bail order issued by the Armed Forces Tribunal said that the tribunal believed the three young men killed were not civilians because they had ventured too close to the de facto border between India and Pakistan.
“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, referring to the heavily militarised Line of Control (LoC).
The tribunal is being presided over by Justice VK Shaili and Lt General SK Singh.
In granting bail to the five soldiers, the court also imputed motive behind the delay in filing a police complaint by the parents of the dead men.
“Complaint was belatedly filed only to garner some sympathy or getting material monetary compensation on account of the alleged killing of their child,” the tribunal said.
The so-called Machil encounter saw three men – Shazad Khan (27), Shafi Lone (19) and Riyaz Lone (20) –killed in a staged shooting in the early hours of April 30, 2010 at Sona Pindi in Machil sector of the LoC.
Investigations found that 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 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.
The Machil killings is one of the reason for triggering a cycle of violent street protests in Kashmir that left more than 100 people dead that year. It was also the first time in Kashmir that army personnel, including a colonel, were given life terms for extra-judicial killings.
The tribunal bench questioned why three civilians would be in “combat Pathan fatigue with ammunition belts around their waists and carry firearms”.
“If a person is a civilian, he would certainly not be in combat uniform, much less he would carry fire arms and ammunition with him,” the bench concluded in its bail order.