Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir state government has formally initiated the legal process in the Machil fake encounter case in which five convicted army men were released on bail by an army court last week.
J&K Advocate General (AG) Jahangir Iqbal Ganaie told Kashmir Reader that the state government has formally sought a copy of the judgement order issued by the army tribunal.
On July 27 this year, five army men, convicted in the killing of three youths in a fake encounter in 2010, were released on bail after an army tribunal suspended their life imprisonment.
“We have applied for a certified copy of the (army tribunal) judgement order,” Ganaie said. “Until and unless we receive and study it, only then can we be able to comment on it properly.”
The three youths killed in Machil were lured on the promise of jobs on April 29 2010 by two locals – Bashir Ahmad Lone and Abdul Hamid – who worked as “counter-insurgency agents” and a Territorial Army man, Abbas Hussain Shah.
They were taken to Kalaroos area in Machil sector near the Line of Control (LoC) where they were shot dead by Rajputana Rifles soldiers of the Indian Army near the Sona Pindi post.
Under public pressure, the J&K Police exhumed the three dead bodies. The deceased were identified as Shehzad Ahmad, Riyaz Ahmad and Mohammad Shafi, all residents of Nadihal village of Baramulla.
The police filed a charge-sheet against 11 persons in 2010 following which the Sopore Chief Judicial Magistrate issued a notice to the Indian Army. An army court subsequently convicted five of its men, who were jailed in their respective home districts.
Legal experts told this newspaper that the state government had 90 days at its disposal to challenge the release order of the five army men.
“It is the state government which can challenge the decision of the military court that suspended the convicts’ life sentences,” the president of the Kashmir Bar Association, Mian Abdul Qayoom, told Kashmir Reader.
Meanwhile, the AG has asserted that if the army judgement went against the justice system, “we will definitely challenge it”.
Justifying the suspension of the life imprisonment of the army convicts, the army tribunal had said: “It can’t be ruled out that the trio was militants as they were wearing the Pathani dress.
“The three young men killed were not civilians because they had ventured too close to the de facto border (the Line of Control) 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,” reads the army court order.