Soldiers to be released from jail in Machhil fake encounter case

New Delhi: Life term punishment of five Army personnel-accused in the fake encounter- has been suspended by Armed Forces Tribunal and will be released from their respective jails in the next few days. They were accused in Machhil fake encounter and were convicted by a general court martial in the highly politicised case.

Colonel Dinesh Pathania, Captain Upendra, Havildar Devender Kumar, Lance Naik Lakhmi, Lance Naik Arun Kumar from 4 Rajput Regiment and rifleman Abbas Hussain of the Territorial Army were convicted in 2014 for the alleged human rights abuse, reports Justice News.

“The accused will have to furnish a personal bond of Rs 50,000 for the bail and will also have to strictly follow the directives of the Armed Forces Tribunal to remain out of the prison till the time the military court hears their plea against their trial,” a court official said.

The army investigation and order in the case was criticised as the force had “failed to establish the chain of evidence to confirm the circumstantial evidence which was relied upon by the Army court martial to convict the personnel.”

There was a turmoil in public after photographs of those killed in the alleged encounter were released, as relatives and neighbours of the killed persons claimed the three men were framed and slaughtered in a stage-managed gunfight and were not connected with militancy in any way.

Observers have said, from the beginning of the case in 2010, the National Conference had been pressurising the central government to hold a trial and punish the army men in the case.

All the five personnel have been kept in different prisons across the country: Colonel Pathania is lodged in the Nahan jail in Himachal Pradesh and Captain Upendra is in a jail in Rajasthan’s Ajmer city.

Two of the soldiers are in Meerut jail, while Lance Naik Lakhmi is in the Bharatpur prison. The Army had completed the trial in December 2013, but it took almost two more years to confirm the sentence, in September 2015.