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A father, a wife, a mother, a brother — for them, the Machil encounter is far more than a Twitter hashtag, those killings marked the end of their own lives as they knew it.
When news reached them of the court martial recommendation, four years after Shahzad Ahmad Khan, Riyaz Ahmad Lone and Mohammad Shafi Lone were killed, their families in Sopore’s Nadihal village couldn’t believe for a while that justice had finally been delivered.
And now that it has happened, at least in the case of the Army men, they want the civilians who lured the three away from the village to be punished too.
“We had lost hope of justice from the Army, but it is good news that the culprits have finally been punished,’’ Mohammad Yosuf, father of Shahzad, told The Indian Express.
“My son, who was working at a workshop, was innocent. Along with his two neighbours, he was killed in cold blood. It is good that the Army has punished its men,’’ the 65 year old said.
“I travelled to Kupwara five times and appeared before the court martial in the hope that I would get justice one day. Although the officials respected us, I had my doubts about whether they would punish their men and officers involved in the crime,’’ he said.
Yosuf, however, added that justice will be done only when the two civilians – Bashir Ahmad Lone and Abdul Hamid – who had handed over the three youngsters to the soldiers get life sentences. “They (Bashir and Hamid) are still trying to save themselves as their trial is going on in the civil court,’’ he said. “I will be relieved only when those two are awarded death sentences.’’
Shahzad’s wife Jabeen Akthar said that after her husband’s death she had only one aim – to get the guilty soldiers and civilians punished.
“I have to take care of my eight year old son and need a lot of money to run the family, but I am still pursuing the case along with my family members,” she said. “We spent a lot of money on this case and justice will be done when this verdict will actually be implemented.”
A little distance away, the family of Riyaz Ahmad Lone lives in a single storey house. “I pray to the almighty that these men who killed innocent souls rot in jails forever,’’ said Riyaz’s mother Haleema. “Real justice would have been to hang the killers of our children.’’
The family members of Mohammad Shafi Lone said that the civilians involved in this case should also get harsh punishment.
“This decision has come late, but if it is implemented it will restore the image of the Army,” said Showket Ahmad, brother of Mohammad.
Ahmad also alleged that the relatives of the two civilians who handed over his brother and the two others to the soldiers were threatening them.
“Even during the court proceedings at Baramulla, their relatives who are in the police were harassing us. We will get justice only when those two are hanged.’’