Jalil Andrabi, the martyr

Wednesday, 28 Mar 2012 at 11:44

He was the one who apprised the world community about pros and cons of the Kashmir dispute

Jalil-ul-Qadr Andrabi was born to Syed Ghulam Qadir Andrabi of Ratnipora, Pulwama on January 30, 1960. Jalil was a brilliant student and joined the department of law, University of Kashmir in 1982 to crush dissent.
While pursuing LLB, the university authorities deployed police in the campus. The students registered strong protest. Jalil and many others were suspended.

Later they were asked to apologise. Jalil refused to apologise and approached Muzaffar Husain Beig for legal help. Impressed by Jalil’s brilliance, Beig urged him to join his firm as his junior. Jalil worked with him for some time and in 1987 established his own chamber.

Jalil was arrested by the police for protesting Maqbool Bhat’s hanging in Delhi’s Tihar Jail on February 11, 1984. Jalil was severely tortured. After his release, Jalil vowed to work for the welfare of detainees.

Jalil filed a petition in the High Court and succeeded in seeking a landmark judgement. The relatives of the detainees were allowed to meet their detained wards every fortnight.  

Taking cognizance of Jalil’s another petition, the high court directed the government to form review committees in every district for reviewing the cases of detainees. The order is still in force with some modifications.
In 1995, Jalil challenged the Governor’s powers of lodging Kashmiri detainees in jails outside the territorial jurisdiction of the state High Court.

Jalil quoted this order while addressing the session of UN sub commission on Human Rights at Geneva in 1995.
Jalil was also invited by the US based Kashmir American Council same year. Jalil participated in conferences, seminars and debates during his stay in the US and apprised the world community of the pros and cons of the Kashmir dispute.
According to people close to Jalil, he came under the government scanner for his activities in Geneva and America.  Jalil was fully aware of the danger to his life.   

Andrabi was arrested by a party of Territorial Army led by Major Avtaar Singh near Rawalpora when he was driving home. The arrest evoked severe reaction from all quarters. The Bar Association agitated the matter and the local press highlighted the issue.

While people started believing that Jalil, like many others, had been subjected to enforced disappearance, his body surfaced near Zero Bridge from the depths of river Jehlum on March 26, 1996.

On a petition filed by the Bar Association, the High Court (Srinagar bench) set up a Special Investigation Team in 1996. In the following year, the team identified an army Major posted in the Rawalpora Camp of the 103 Territorial Army as prima facie responsible for the death. But the army representatives told the High Court that the Major was not employed by the army any longer and that he had not committed the offence in his official capacity.

In October 2000, the case gained momentum when the Team submitted a report of its findings to the High Court, which asked the army to present the accused in the court of competent jurisdiction, the Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) in Budgam. Despite repeated requests, the army did not comply.

In December 2001, the Team submitted a charge sheet (the final police inquiry report) before the Budgam CJM, who admitted the charge sheet without insisting on the presence of the accused as is required by law. The army then made known its decision to try the accused by court martial. Members of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association representing Jalil Andrabi’s family challenged the trial by court martial before the High Court. This petition was sent back to the CJM without clarifying the point if a charge sheet could be entertained without the accused being brought before the court.

Hearings of this petition have continued since then. The CJM has ordered the Team to arrest the accused and bring him to court. However, till date the accused has not been arrested. Army representatives have asserted in court that the accused was absconding and that they have not been able to locate him. The Team while filing its final report is on record as having stated that the accused Major was working with the Railway Regiment of the Territorial Army posted at Ludhiana, Punjab.

The family of Jalil Andrabi has expressed its feeling of frustration and loss of faith in the institution of the judiciary, which has failed to provide legal redress for eleven years. They believe that the accused Major has left India and settled in Canada. An application has been filed before the court seeking reasons as to why a passport had been issued in favour of the accused Major despite High Court orders to the contrary.

The failure of the government to bring Major Avtaar to justice till date has evoked a strong reaction from the Amnesty International. In a press statement dated March 24, 2005, the Amnesty held, “The continuing failure of the Government of Jammu and Kashmir to bring to justice those responsible for the death of human rights lawyer Jalil Andrabi nine years ago reinforces the sense that human rights defenders in the state cannot count on the state’s protection.

Amnesty International believes that justice must be done to ensure that human rights violations end. Undue delays will produce the impression that perpetrators can get away with abuses and that the state shields its agents from being brought to justice. The organization reiterates its repeated earlier appeals to the Government of Jammu and Kashmir to break the cycle of impunity by ensuring that perpetrators of all human rights violations in the state are brought to justice without delay and in a transparent manner in order to restore people’s confidence in the rule of law.”

Acknowledging his contribution to human rights in Kashmir, the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society conferred the Robert Thorp award on him in 2006. The government of Pakistan also conferred Hilal-e-Imtiaz on Jalil in 2001.
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