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Fake killings loom over Prime Minister's J&K visit

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's two-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir that starts today has been overshadowed by the alleged fake encounter in Machil by the Army in April.

delhi Updated: Jun 07, 2010 01:16 IST
HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents
Hindustan Times

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's two-day visit to Kashmir that starts on Monday has been overshadowed by the alleged fake encounter in Machil by the Army in April.

The Army on Sunday suspended a major and removed a colonel from his command, pending an inquiry, for their alleged involvement in the killing of three youngsters, who were passed off as militants, for monetary benefits, in Machil, 65 km north of Srinagar.

The case has led to widespread protests in the valley and brought into focus other such encounters.

From letters in city newspapers to statements from both mainstream and separatist leaders, the enthusiasm surrounding Singh's visit - his second after October in his second term as PM - has somewhat dampened because of the alleged encounter.

The Prime Minister, who is expected to renew the offer for talks with separatists, and review the progress in the Round Table peace initiative and development work being undertaken in the state, will address a convocation of the Sher-e-Kashmir Agricultural University in Srinagar.

The ruling National Conference party may seek early talks on providing greater autonomy to the state as recommended by the Sagir Ahmed Committee set up by the Prime Minister, PMO sources said.

"The fake encounter exposé has damned the spirit of the PM's visit this time," said the Opposition PDP's Mehbooba Mufti.

"Because when things like this happen, insecurities are bound to creep in."

J&K CM Omar Abdullah had said that after the Machil encounter, the state police had got numerous complaints about other encounters, "all of which were being reinvestigated".

On April 30, the Army had claimed it had foiled an infiltration bid by killing three unidentified youngsters in Machil.

Three weeks after the encounter, three families from Nadihal in the state's Baramulla district claimed the slain youngsters were their kin.

After an inquiry, the state police named Col DK Pathania, commanding officer of the Army's 4 Rajput Regiment, and his junior, Major Bhupinder Singh, as main accused in the case.

The decision to take action against the two was taken on Sunday at a high-level meeting.

(With inputs from New Delhi)

First Published: Jun 06, 2010 20:46 IST