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The Forgotten Case Of The Victim Jaleel Andrabi And The Accused Avatar Singh

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By Pankaj Khandelwal:

Recently lots of buzz was created by the media about the suicide of Major (Retd.) Avatar Singh were the retired army man killed himself along with his wife on June 9 at his home in California. The question that arises is who Major Avatar Singh is and why this ‘felo-de-se’ holds so much of importance.

Served with 35 Rashtriya Rifles (RR) unit of army in Srinagar, Major Avatar Singh was charged with the kidnap and murder of Jaleel Andrabi. Jaleel Andrabi, was a prominent Kashmiri human rights lawyer and pro independence political activist associated with Kashmiri nationalist organization, the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF).

On January 29, 1996 two men visited Andrabi’s house claiming his father was in hospital after being set on fire by the army. Andrabi felt suspicious and refused to go. Andrabi in those days talked of counter insurgents working for the Army. Fearing for life, he left for Delhi. Later on March 8, 1996 while driving home with wife, he was stopped by army personnel and taken away. His wife Riffat went to the police but they refused to register the case. Due to massive public outcry, Special Investigation Team (SIT) was set up on March 14, 1996 after an order by Justice Bilal Nazki. Jaleel’s body was recovered from Jhelum on March 27, 1996. On April 5, 1996 SIT found 5 bodies near Pampore of counter insurgents who were living in the premises of 35 RR headquartered in Budgam. Later in August, 1996 another counter-insurgent Ashraf Khan was arrested from Baramulla. Ashraf in his statement claimed to have seen army personnel load a gunny bag onto an army tuck and leave the camp. Meanwhile Major was able to leave the country for Canada and then to America even though court had ordered to seize his passport.

In 1998, SIT found Major to be involved in 7 other extra-judicial killings. In the same year charge sheet was filed against the accused persons including Major. Later in 2009, Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) of Srinagar dismissed the applications moved by Jaleel’s family in which they requested the court to direct the police to further investigate into the matter. On December 22, 2011, CJM directed IGP Crime for submitting a report regarding the steps being taken to extradite the accused army man from California, USA. Again in Feb, 2012 CJM rejected two more applications moved by Jaleel’s family seeking initiation of proceedings against Avatar Singh in the murder case and also against 7 FIRs lodged against him under Section 302 (Murder). On June 6, 2012 city court ordered the prosecution to produce the English translation of the reconstructed charge sheet that was submitted by the police on May 20, 2012, originally in Urdu. With the sudden change of events due to the suicide of Major, the local court on June 12, directed the prosecution to submit records attesting the death of Major Avatar Singh in California.

The inability of the government to bring the accused to India and deliver justice to the family of Andrabi even after 16 years shows the loopholes and fragile framework of the Indian Judiciary System.

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  1. sonakshi madan

    India’s parliament and judiciary must revisit the National Security Act to close any loopholes that permit law enforcement to abuse constitutional and statutory rights. They must deprive the police of this convenient tool for punishing alleged criminals without having to uphold accused persons’ fundamental rights. They also must force the criminal justice system to directly and appropriately address its weaknesses. It is time for India to catch up with the international community and recognize that preventive detention must not be used as an ordinary and regular law and order measure.

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        An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

        Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

        Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

        The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

        Read more about his campaign.

        Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

        Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

        Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

        Read more about her campaign.

        MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

        With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

        Read more about her campaign. 

        A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

        As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

        Find out more about the campaign here.

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        As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

        Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

        Find out more about her campaign here.

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        A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

        A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

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        A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
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        Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
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