Military court grants bail to those convicted in Machhil fake encounter

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Srinagar: A military court has 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, a media report said today.

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, reports said.

This was the first case in the Valley in which Indian Army personnel have been awarded life terms on these charges.

The Army Northern Command on September 7, 2015, had confirmed life terms awarded to six Army personnel, including a former commanding officer, for the 2010 killing of three youths in a fake encounter in Machil in north Kashmir. This is the first case in the Valley in which Army personnel have been awarded life terms on such a charge.

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,” Major Anand Kumar and Major SS Pandey, the two lawyers of five Army personnel in the case, told the media today, on Wednesday.

“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.’

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.

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