Mainstream J&K parties and moderate separatists welcomed the sentencing for the Machil killings but the hardline faction of the Hurriyat, led by Syed Ali Geelani, said the decision was not enough. And all parties referred to other cases of alleged human rights violation by the armed force in the valley.
“This is a positive development and our party welcomes the Army’s judgment,” said Naeem Akhtar, PDP spokesperson. “We look forward to justice in all other cases such as the Pathribal fake encounter and Kunan-Poshpora mass rape, in which justice remains to be done.”
For the Congress, national spokesman Salman Soz said, “We welcome this decision and the criminals should be punished.”
BJP spokesman Khalid Jahangir noted this is the first time action has been taken against Army men. “It is a slap on the face of the Congress which was only talking about human rights cases. It is because of PM Narendra Modi that justice has been done.”
For the moderate faction of Hurriyat Conference, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, said, “This is the first case in which the Army has done justice to Kashmiris. Similar justice should be done in all other cases.”
The hardline faction of the Huriyat, headed by Syed Ali Geelani, said there are thousands of such cases. “When justice is done to all people of the valley, only then will we be satisfied,” Geelani said.
Amnesty International India too welcomed recent measures taken by Army authorities.
“The military court verdict in the Machil case should be followed by justice for the many other cases of human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir,” said Shailesh Rai, programmes director at Amnesty International India. “Too often, military authorities dismiss the complaints they receive about human rights violations. The Pathribal case was also a reminder that the military justice system do not always lead to justice… For justice to be the rule and not the exception, all cases of human rights violations should be investigated and prosecuted by independent civilian authorities. ”
The Other Cases
Pathribal, 2000: Five days after the massacre of 35 Sikhs in Chittisinghpora, Army officers announced killing of five men they described as the “LeT militants responsible”. Exhumation of the bodies and tests later showed these were men who had disappeared from three villages. Govt suspended a few police officers but later reinstated them. CBI took up case, which reached SC. In 2012, Army agreed to a court-martial, which in 2014 cleared the accused officers.
Ganderbal encounter, 2006: Four villagers were abducted, killed in a fake encounter and dubbed foreign militants. Police probe found police and Army officers involved. The police officers were arrested and prosecuted, but the Army cited AFSPA. After a Supreme Court order, Army held court-martial and cleared the officers.
Kunan-Poshpora rapes, 1991: Army allegedly raped more than 40 women in Kunan and Poshpora villages in Kupwara. Army denies the charge and the case is in court. In other rape cases (1997 in Anantnag and 1999 in Rafiabad), defence ministry sanction for prosecution yet to come in.
Jalil Andrabi murder, 1996: J&K police held Major Avtar Singh guilty of involvement in 11 killings, including of human rights lawyer Andrabi. Chargesheet filed in 2001. Army told court that they would go for court-martial proceedings. In 2012, the major committed suicide after killing his family in the US.
Bomai killings, 2009: Two killed at Bomai village of Sopore. Army claimed they died in cross-fire, state probe held Army responsible for the killings. The Army refused to depose before the inquiry commission citing AFSPA. Army camp was later shifted.
Kupwara killings, 2005-06: Soldiers of 6 RR mistook three boys aged between 10 and 16 for militants and killed them at Bangargund village in Kupwara. The Army regretted the killings. No action taken. In 2006, Army killed four boys played cricket at Doodhipora in Kupwara. Case on in HC.