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Posted at: Sep 8, 2015, 1:08 AM; last updated: Sep 7, 2015, 10:30 PM (IST)

At last, justice in Kashmir

Machil case verdict should be a healthy precedent

The Army has confirmed the life sentence to two of its officers and four soldiers who had killed three innocents in a fake encounter at Machil in April 2010. They were convicted in November last year and it took the Northern Command chief, Lt-Gen DS Hooda, almost a year to  confirm the punishment. Although a belated delivery of justice, it clearly demonstrates that  there is punishment for  every crime. The men in olive green are not above the law and even the protective cover of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act  failed to save them from punishment. 

The Machil victims — Shezad, Riyaz and Mohammad Shafi of Nadihal  village in North Kashmir-were innocent villagers  who were shot by the convicts for money and passed on as terrorists. When the truth came out, protests broke out in Kashmir, leaving 120 dead. The Army should not stop here. It should take action in all cases of disappearance and rape in which its name figures.  There is a need to revisit the policy of rewarding soldiers who kill terrorists. There should be a scrutiny of all claims following which rewards and promotions have been given. The shame of the Pathribal killings in the aftermath of the massacre of 35 Sikhs in Chittisinghpora in March 2000 has still not been forgotten. That's a stigma that should be removed forthwith. The provisions of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act should be diluted so that  the AFSPA serves as a facilitator in the delivery of fast  justice and not a hurdle. The fake encounters and the shield of the AFSPA have done an incalculable damage to the image of the country. 

The trial of such cases and punishment where it is due should not become the rarest-of-rare cases but a norm and the citizens' right to live with dignity should be respected. The government must act  because inaction and delays do more harm than good to the honourable and brave men in uniform who  have made supreme sacrifices  while fighting terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir for the past over 25 years.


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