"The army has handed out life sentences to seven including the Commanding officer in the Machil fake encounter case of 2010. This is indeed a very welcome step," Chief Minister Omar Abdullah posted on Twitter.
Terming the verdict of the Army General Court Martial (GCM) as a "watershed moment", Omar wrote, "No one in Kashmir ever believed that justice would be done in such cases. Faith in institutions disappeared. I hope that we never see such #Machil fake encounter type of incidents ever again and let this serve as a warning to those tempted to try," he said.
According to Omar, seven army personnel, including two officers, have been given life sentence in connection with the killing of three youths in Machil sector of Jammu and Kashmir in April, 2010. However, army sources in New Delhi said that only five army personnel have been sentenced and a confirmation process is on.
Pradesh Congress Committee also welcomed the the GCM verdict saying it is good that law has taken its course and justice has been done. "We welcome the verdict. Law has taken its course as it should have," PCC vice president Ghulam Nabi Monga said. He said the court martial proceedings in other cases like Pathribal should also be expedited.
State secretary of CPI (M) Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami also welcomed the decision saying "for the first time, army has acted in such a case in a firm manner." "It will send a strong message among the security forces that such criminal acts are not acceptable to the nation," Tarigami said.
He said there were other cases like Pathribal fake encounter killings which are not covered yet. "We hope that the other cases will also be taken to logical conclusion and dealt with firmly," he added.
No one from the main opposition PDP was available for comment on the development. In April, 2010, the army had said it had killed three infiltrators in Machil sector and claimed they were Pakistani militants.
The men were later identified as Shahzad Ahmad Khan, Riyaz Ahmad Lone and Muhammad Shafi Lone, all residents of Baramulla district.