NEW YORK, June 8 (IANS) - The killing of three men by soldiers in Jammu and Kashmir in an apparent "faked encounter with so-called militants" underlines the urgency for India to repeal a tough military legislation, Human Rights Watch has said.
Under the Armed Forces Special Powers (Jammu and Kashmir) Act (AFSPA), which has been in force in Jammu and Kashmir since 1990, soldiers may not be prosecuted in a civilian court unless New Delhi sanctions it, it said in a report Monday.
Police have accused Col DK Pathania and Maj Upinder Singh of the 4th Rajput Regiment of killing three Kashmiri villagers April 30.
The military men falsely claimed that the villagers were militants and shot at the Line of Control (LOC), which divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan.
The Army ordered an inquiry, suspended the Major and removed the Colonel from command.
"We have seen too many Army inquiries, supposed suspensions, and false promises of punishment whenever soldiers are implicated in killing civilians," said Human Rights Watch. "But when the dust settles, the Army obstructs prosecution under the Special Powers Act, and fails to deliver justice."
The Army claimed that it killed three militants after it foiled their attempt to infiltrate in the Machil sector of the LoC, and displayed AK-47 assault rifles, ammunition and Pakistani currency allegedly recovered from the men.
Police alleged that a member of the Territorial Army, Abbas Hussain Shah, deliberately lured the three men, Mohamad Shafi, Shehzad Ahmed, and Riyaz Ahmed, all residents of Baramulla district, into Army custody with offers of jobs.
Police arrested Shah, along with two alleged accomplices, after relatives reported that the three men were missing. Shah said he acted under orders from the Major.