Remembering Jalil Andrabi on his 27th death anniversary. By Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai

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“Today is the 27th anniversary of Jalil Andrabi, a person of deep judicial insight and former Chairman of Kashmir Commission of Jurists. He was detained by Major Avtar Singh of the 35th Rashtriya Rifles of the Indian Army on March 8, 1996, and later his dead body was seen floating in the River Jehlum on March 27, 1996. Jalil Andrabi was a Muslim, but his compassion and love transcended all religious boundaries.  During his intervention in Geneva at the 47th session of the United Nations Sub-commission on Human Rights in August 1995, he said, ‘My people are intelligent, industrious and peace loving.  The ethical concept of human brotherhood beyond the bonds of closed religious’ groupings has always animated Kashmiris,’ recalls Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, Chairman, ‘World Forum for Peace & Justice.’

Dr. Fai added that “In killing Jalil Andrabi, Avtar Singh certainly did not act on his own volition. He was only a major.  His act was no doubt a response to orders from above and occurred in a longstanding climate of impunity that the Indian army enjoys in Kashmir. The Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), which gives any Indian soldier the right in Kashmir to take a Kashmiri’s life under any circumstance, has enabled such a climate for decades. And Jalil Andrabi had become a hated, despised man by the Army, a man dangerous to the status quo of continued murder and torture that had been taking place in Kashmir’s jails, interrogation centers and detention facilities for many years.”

“Advocate Jalil Andrabi knew firsthand the facts. He had been documenting the human rights violations by taking information from victim’s families and witnesses. In personal conversations he had told me how very difficult it was for lawyers to meet with the detainees and how much they are under pressure, and he had also told me that because of his political views the Indian Army had often harassed him. He knew that his life was on the line, and had spent a month in New Delhi just prior to his murder, hoping to escape India’s wrath. He had only returned to Kashmir to celebrate Eid with his family and friends,” Fai continued.

Jalil Andrabi had been a friend of mine. His trip to Geneva in August 1995 shortly before his murder to attend the ‘47th session of the United Nations Sub-Commission on Human Rights ‘was at my invitation, as were other international engagements he had attended in Washington and elsewhere. On one such occasion, we had traveled by car together, along with my wife, to attend a convention between September 1 - 4, 1995 in Columbus, Ohio, in order to talk and exchange views intimately on various issues on which we shared an interest.  It was on this trip that I gained a much deeper appreciation for Jalil Andrabi’s character.  He was a man of deep compassion and vision, high intellect and deep judicial insight and had been personally responsible for bringing many human rights violations in Kashmir into the light of day.   

During the United Nations Sub-Commission, Jalil Andrabi made two interventions, one on August 7, 1995, under agenda item 18, which was on the issue of ‘Freedom of Movement.’  On that occasion he had said, “Mr. Chairman, the Kashmiris are waging a legitimate struggle for achieving the exercise of their right of self-determination, and the atrocities which constitute war crimes forbidden under the Geneva Conventions and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are being inflicted upon them only because of this struggle.  Therefore, besides, calling upon India to put an end to the crimes against humanity, it is necessary to compel India to allow the people of Kashmir an unfettered exercise of their right of self-determination under the UN auspices.” 

”The atrocities,” he said,  “which are perpetrated upon my people are not aberrations but rather integral components of a systematic policy. These atrocities are being perpetrated as a weapon of war in order to break the will of the people.”  

Amnesty International has sad that ‘AI is concerned that -- like hundreds of victims of human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir -- prominent lawyer and human rights activist Jalil Andrabi will soon be forgotten.

Mr. Nicholas Burns of the State Department issued a statement on March 29, 1996, condemning the killing of Jalil Andrabi and called upon the government of India to conduct a full and transparent investigation into the circumstances surrounding Andrabi’s abduction and murder.  

Such a statement was also issued by the UN Human Rights Commissioner Jose Ayala Lasso condemning the murder and calling for an impartial investigation. 

Various members of Congress wrote a joint letter to then Prime Minister P. V. Narasimha Rao of India on March 27, 1996, conveying their profound dismay at the death of Jalil Andrabi.  They asked that the Indian government thoroughly investigate this shocking murder and bring the perpetrators to justice. 

Unfortunately, despite this condemnation at a global level, the government of India not only did not punish the perpetrator but did not even arrest the main culprit. When the Jammu & Kashmir High Court found Major Avtar Singh to be the person who killed Jalil Andrabi, the High Court ordered his arrest in 1997. The judge who did so was punished by immediately being transferred from Kashmir to India.  In addition, because Indian army personnel have full immunity in Kashmir, the government of India arranged a passport despite the court order for his arrest and facilitated his exit from India to save him from any legal proceedings. Travesty of justice.

Dr. Fai is the Chairman of Washington-based World Forum for Peace & Justice. He can be reached at: 

1-202-607-6435 or  gnfai2003@yahoo.com

 

 

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