He is involved in murder of Jaleel Andrabi in 1996
The Jammu and Kashmir government has begun a fresh attempt at the extradition from the United States of a former Army Major, involved in the kidnap and murder of Jaleel Andrabi, a human rights lawyer, here in 1996.
Major Avtar Singh of the Territorial Army was arrested in California on the charge of domestic violence on Saturday and released later.
Official sources told The Hindu: “A team, headed by the In-charge Chief Prosecuting Officer, Srinagar, has left for New Delhi to discuss the issue with the Ministries of External Affairs and Home Affairs, and then with the U.S. Embassy.”
Officials maintained that they had taken up the matter with the U.S. Embassy more than a year ago, yet there was no progress.
The Chief Judicial Magistrate had earlier issued warrants for Interpol and asked the Central Bureau of Investigation to get the warrants executed. But there was no clue to the whereabouts of Major Singh, who was reported to be hiding in Canada before shifting base to California a year ago.
“It was stated that he was not traceable,” said an officer associated with the case. “Now that he has been located, it will become easy to move for extradition.”
Major Singh was arrested by the Selma police in California on Saturday and let off from the Fresno County Jail. The sources maintained that after he was arrested, his wife told the police that he was wanted in a murder case in Kashmir. “Our officers will discuss the possibilities of extradition through the U.S. Embassy,” the sources said.
“The local police discovered Singh was wanted by Interpol, but when they contacted the police agency and the U.S. State Department, they were told it wasn't necessary to hold Singh,” said a news portal in California.
Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chairman Yasin Malik said the development was encouraging. “Now that the wife of the accused Major Avtar Singh has spilled the beans and it is known to all where he is hiding, it becomes the responsibility of the State and the judiciary to bring him to justice…”
Jaleel Andrabi's brother Arshad Andrabi said: “I came to know about the latest developments through newspaper reports that Major Avtar Singh is in California. Though his extradition has so far been deliberately delayed, I hope that this time round he is extradited, if the newspaper reports are true.” On November 19, 2009, the family members of Jaleel Andrabi submitted an application to the Chief Judicial Magistrate for re-investigation of the case, claiming that Major Singh was not the only accused.
Plea to quiz relatives
At a March 15, 2010 hearing, Arshad Andrabi told the court: “The court should get to know how the accused has been allowed to leave the country on a valid passport and who facilitated his travel.”
He also wanted Major Singh's relatives questioned to find out his whereabouts. The prosecution, he said, was making a mockery of the court by not pursuing the matter seriously.
Earlier, the Inspector-General of Police (Crime), in its report to the court, said: “In compliance with the orders, the requisite documents were obtained from the agencies concerned, and the same have been forwarded to the Assistant Director of the National Control Bureau, New Delhi, for submission to the authorities of Interpol in India.”