The Army has ordered court martial proceedings against six soldiers, including a former Commanding Officer of 4-Rajput Regiment, in the Machhil fake encounter case, days after a Court of Inquiry found them guilty of murder and other charges in Jammu and Kashmir.
The six soldiers, held guilty of murder, abduction and criminal conspiracy, include Col. D.K. Pathania and the key accused Maj. Upinder. Unconfirmed reports said three local counter-insurgents had also been found guilty.
A day after the three civilians — Shahzad Ahmad Khan, Riyaz Ahmad Lone and Mohammad Shafi Lone of Nadihal — had left for the Kalaroos area “to get an Army job” but did not return, their families filed a missing report with the police in April 2010. When the Army on April 30 claimed to have killed three militants in an encounter at Machhil, close to the Line of Control, in Kupwara district, the families pressed for speedy police investigation — expressing fears that the trio could have been bumped off in a fake encounter. Under public pressure, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah raised the issue with the Centre. Then GOC-in-C Northern Command Lt. Gen. B.S. Jaiswal and GOC of 15 Corps assured the State authorities of “a fair and transparent probe” but the police went ahead with their own investigation. Days after Col. Pathania was removed from his battalion and Maj. Upinder suspended on the eve of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to the Valley on June 7, the bodies buried at Kalaroos were exhumed under magisterial supervision. Post-mortem report indicated that the trio had been “shot at point-blank range.”