Over three years after the Machchil fake encounter that fuelled widespread unrest in Kashmir Valley, the Army today ordered court martial against six of its men including a Colonel and a Major for allegedly gunning down three youths and labelling them as militants.
Official sources said today those who will face proceedings include Col D K Pathania, Commanding Officer (CO) of 4 Rajput Regiment, Major Upinder and four of its men.
The incident came to light on April 30, 2010 when bodies of three youths were shown by Army as militants who were trying to sneak into the Valley from higher reaches of Machchil in North Kashmir with arms and ammunition. It had later claimed that they were Pakistani terrorists.
However, it was established by the Jammu and Kashmir police that the unemployed youths -- Mohamad Shafi, Shehzad Ahmed and Riyaz Ahmed -- were residents of Nadihal in Baramulla district and apparently misled on the pretext of giving jobs and later shot dead.
The Police had chargesheeted nine people in July 2010 including six Army personnel but had to hand over the probe to the Army after it was assured of holding a detailed inquiry into the incident.
An official spokesperson of the Northern Command said the Army ordered disciplinary proceedings against the accused personnel of the Army units involved in the 2010 alleged Machchil fake encounter case.
"A very detailed and exhaustive enquiry was conducted with the assistance of state police and judicial department to summon witnesses, record evidence and establish culpability of the accused personnel. After detailed scrutiny of the complete incident and any wrong doings committed by the concerned personnel, Army has ordered court martial proceedings to take the legal process to a logical conclusion highlighting the Army’s resolve of ensuring justice with speed," the spokesperson said.
Following the alleged fake encounter, a Territorial Army jawan and two others were arrested by police but the incident led to widespread unrest in the entire Kashmir Valley which left 123 people dead.
Ruling National Conference welcomed the move and expressed hope that the court martial proceedings would be completed in a time bound manner and guilty would be punished.
The police charge sheet had named Col Pathania, Maj Upinder and four others of the unit besides a Territorial Army jawan and two others for allegedly conspiring and kidnapping three youths on the pretext of giving them jobs and later killing them in the higher reaches of Kupwara claiming they were terrorists.
The charge sheet was filed in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate in Sopore.
The State police had arrested three persons Abbas Shah--the Territorial Army jawan, Basharat Lone and Abdul Hamid Bhat-for alleged involvement in the encounter.