NEW DELHI - Indian Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore yesterday boasted again to conduct a covert or special operation in Pakistan to take out Dawood Ibrahim and Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed.

In an interview with a private news channel, Rathore said that India could launch a special operation to net Ibrahim and Saeed as his country was always ready to ‘neutralise’ its enemies. “Enemies of India should never think on the lines that we are not hammering out any planning about them,” he said.

Responding to a question, the minister said: “We are evolving a strategy against the accused of Mumbai attacks but it should not be talked about before it is launched. We might talk about it after it’s over. It depends on whether the government says it should be a covert operation or a special operation,” he said. India has accused Saeed of masterminding the 2008 attack on its financial capital Mumbai when gunmen killed 166 people. India also believes that Ibrahim, wanted for 1993 Mumbai bombings, was sheltering in Karachi. Pakistan denies that it shelters Ibrahim.

Answering a question, Rathore said that every available option will be used to take out the two. He said that the Indian government believed that dialogue was the best option for ironing out differences with Pakistan, but that was only possible when there was a cessation to terrorism.

Meanwhile, An Army officer of Colonel rank was among six awarded life imprisonment today in the 2010 Machil encounter case, a Northern Command-based defence spokesperson Col S D Goswami said here. Colonel Dinesh Pathania, Captain Upendra, Havildar Devendra Kumar, Lance Naik Lakhmi, Lance Naik Arun Kumar and Rifleman Abbas Hussain were awarded life imprisonment in the 2010 case, which had sparked off widespread unrest in the Valley.

Col Goswami said the General Officer Commanding in Chief, Northern Command, Lt Gen D S Hooda, has confirmed the sentence of the Summary General Court Martial in the Machil encounter case.

The case related to the killing in 2010 of three youths-namely Shezad Ahmad, Riyaz Ahmad and Mohammad Shafi from Nadihal village of Baramulla. On April 29 in 2010, the three were lured by two local counter-insurgency agents Bashir Ahmad Lone and Abdul Hamid and a Territorial Army jawan Abbas Hussain Shah to Kalaroos village in the Machil sector near the Line of Control.

They were promised jobs as porters and good money, but were then killed by the Army jawans of 4 Rajputana Rifles near the Sona Pindi post and dubbed as ‘Pakistani militants’ belonging to Laskar-e-Taiba. The identities of the victims were revealed a month later when their bodies were exhumed following a public outcry.The April 2010 killings in Machil sector had sparked widespread protests in Indian-held Kashmir at the time, leading to 120 deaths in battles between demonstrators and security forces.

Hundreds were reportedly wounded in the riots while thousands of Kashmiri youth were detained as well. A case was registered by the local police against nine Indian army personnel and two local residents, who had claimed that three ‘Pakistani terrorists’ were killed in the encounter.

A probe into the incident had later proved that the three Kashmiri labourers (Shahzad Ahmad Khan, Mohammad Shafi Lone, Riyaz Ahmad Lone) were lured with promises of jobs and taken to the border where they were killed in a fake encounter in the Machil area of northern Kashmir’s Kupwara district near the Line of Control (LoC).

The Indian army had subsequently ordered a general court martial that found the six army personnel guilty of charge. The Army probe was set up following a notice issued by the Sopore Chief Judicial Magistrate based on a charge sheet filed by local police against 11 people including nine Army officials and two civilians.