New Delhi: A military tribunal has granted bail this week to five army soldiers convicted of killing three people in a staged shooting in 2010. Said it believed the killed were terrorists as they wore ‘Pathan suits’.
In its bail order, the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT), said, “The fact that the accused persons were terrorists… cannot be ruled out because they were wearing Pathan suits which are worn by terrorists.” The flowing Pathan or Pathani suit is a common men’s clothing across Kashmir, HT reports having a copy of the order.
The Machil fake encounter in which three civilians were manslaughter by soldiers looking to collect a bounty on militants. Subsequently, an army court sentenced six soldiers, including a colonel, to life in jail but five of them went into appeal before the AFT in New Delhi.
The AFT said they believed the three men killed were not civilians because they had ventured too close to the de facto border between India and Pakistan, which is often used by militants to travel between the two countries.
“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.
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.
Later, investigations found 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 state police after the families of the victims filed a missing report.