Life Sentence of Indian Army Officer Convicted of Killing 3 in Staged Kashmir Gunfight Suspended

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An Indian armed forces tribunal has suspended the life sentence of an army officer who was found “guilty” of a staged gunfight in Indian-administered Kashmir in 2020. 

Three civilians, dubbed as militants, were killed in the fake operation.

The armed forces tribunal also granted conditional bail to Capt. Bhoopendra Singh of the Indian army, who was found guilty of killing three men in the staged encounter, New Delhi-based Press Trust of India reported.

In the staged encounter, three men – Imtiyaz Ahmad, 21; Abrar Ahmad, 25; and Abrar Khatana, 18 – were shot dead in Amshipora village in Indian-administered Kashmir’s Shopian district on July 18, 2020.

After two months of protests by their families, who said the victims were laborers with no connection to any militant outfits, the Indian military admitted its wrongdoing on Sept. 18 that year.

In a statement, the Indian army had said the men were laborers from Rajouri, an area in the Jammu region of the disputed territory, and that its personnel had overstepped their authority by exceeding the powers vested under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).

“The applicant (convicted soldier) has already been in custody for a period of about three years and therefore, it is a fit case where, prima facie, evidence available on record suggests that bail can be granted to the applicant by suspending the sentence,” said a two-member tribunal headed by chairperson Justice Rajendra Menon.

This is the second such case where an armed forces tribunal suspended the sentence of its personnel who were found involved in staged gunfights in Kashmir.

In 2017, a military court suspended the life sentence given to five soldiers who were convicted of killing three Kashmiri civilians in a staged shootout in 2010 in northern Kashmir – in a case known as fake Machil encounter.

Source : aa