The army’s judgment to award life sentences to seven of its own is resonating loud in this hamlet in North Kashmir’s Rafiabad area.
Three young men from this village— Shazad Khan (27), Shafi Lone (19) and Riyaz Lone (22) — were killed by the army almost four years ago in a fake encounter.
While the verdict may bring closure for the families of the three young men, the verdict holds a different meaning for the family of Bashir Ahmad Lone, one of the perpetrators and a native of the same village.
Investigation revealed that Bashir had lured the young men with the promise of jobs and had hatched a conspiracy with some army men to kill them as militants. Bashir and another counter-insurgent are being tried in a civil court.
“How can we rest till Lone and the other accused are awarded death sentence? It was Bashir who laid the death trap for the boys,” said Firdous Ahmad, the brother of Riyaz Lone.
Firdous said that Riyaz was the eldest of eight siblings. “My father can barely work. Bashir offered him a job. How can a person with so many responsibilities not jump for it?’’ Firdous added.
“The verdict is unexpected but we will rest only when the accused are hanged,” said Riyaz’s cousin Tanvir.