A court in Jammu and Kashmir Tuesday rejected the Indian Army’s plea to hand over the four men arrested in the allegedly staged Machil gunfight case for recording their statements for its own court of enquiry into the incident.
Dismissing the army’s plea after police in north Kashmir’s Sopore town stated that handing over the accused would hamper their investigations, Chief Judical Magistrate (CJM) Kousar Ahmad Qureshi instead remanded the four men to further police custody.
Due to the unwillingness of the police, the accused could not be handed over to the army, Qureshi said.
Qureshi had June 9 issued notice to the police seeking its response on the army’s plea.
‘Since the police report reveals that the witnesses required are co-accused in case under FIR No. 13/2010 under section 364/302/120 B of the RPC (Ranbir Penal Code)’ they can’t be handed over to the army as they are in judicial remand and lodged in Baramulla sub-jail, the CJM said.
An army brigadier, who had been named to head the court of enquiry, had moved an application in the CJM’s court seeking the presence of the four accused for recording their statements on the alleged involvement of a major of the 4 Rajputana Rifles in the Machil gunfight.
Three villagers of north Kashmir’s Nadihal village in Rafiabad area in Baramulla district – Shahzad Ahmad Khan, Riyaz Ahmad Lone and Muhammad Shafi Lone – were framed as separatist guerrillas and killed in an allegedly staged shootout in Machil sector of the Line of Control (LOC) on April 30.
The army had claimed in a statement that the three had been killed when an infiltration bid was foiled by the army April 30 on the LoC.
The state police has arrested Bashir Ahmad Lone, a former special police officer; Abdul Hamid Bhat, who is said to be an informer for the army; Abbas Hussain Shah of the Territorial Army and Javaid Ahmed, the driver of the taxi in which the three victims were taken to the accused, Major Bhupendra, who had allegedly lured them to work as labourers for the army on a daily wage of Rs. 2,000.