India

Kashmir soldiers sentenced to life for killings

Kashmir soldiers Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Tens of thousands of troops are deployed in Indian-administered Kashmir

The Indian army has sentenced seven soldiers to life imprisonment for the murder of three young men in Indian-administered Kashmir.

The men were reportedly lured from their homes by the soldiers with the promise of money and jobs but then shot dead near the de-facto border with Pakistan four years ago.

They were then falsely described as Pakistani militants.

The staged killings led to protests and bloodshed in the Kashmir Valley.

The soldiers, convicted on Thursday after court martial proceedings, include two officers.

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah welcomed the sentencing and called it a "watershed moment" in Kashmir's history.

"No one in Kashmir ever believed that justice would be done in such cases. Faith in institutions disappeared... let this serve as a warning to those tempted to try," Mr Abdullah tweeted.

On 30 April 2010, the army said it had killed three "Pakistani infiltrators" along the Line of Control (LoC) - the de facto border that divides the disputed region of Kashmir between India and Pakistan - in the Machil area.

Image caption The men were reportedly lured from their homes by the soldiers with the promise of money and jobs

The claim was disputed by the residents of the area who accused the army of carrying out a "fake encounter" and said that those killed were local villagers.

Weeks of violent protests brought Kashmir Valley to a halt and there was further bloodshed after the killings.

The army later set up an inquiry into the allegations that finally culminated into the launch of court martial proceedings against six soldiers, including two officers.

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