Ex-major faces arrest for kidnap, murder charges

US may extradite former Army officer, believed to be in California, soon


The United States may extradite retired Major Avtar Singh, who is believed to be in California, to stand trial in India for allegedly detaining Kashmiri human rights lawyer Jalil Andrabi and killing him in March 1996.

The legal process for Singh’s extradition may be expedited after the Chief Judicial Magistrate’s court in Srinagar last week ordered the Jammu and Kashmir police to forward to the Interpol-United States National Central Bureau the translated and certified versions of court proceedings and other documents along with a request for provisional arrest.

The United States National Central Bureau (USNCB) is a component of the American Government’s Department of Justice and its representative in the Interpol. It had on November 25 last written to its counterpart in the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) – National Central Bureau (Interpol) – seeking the documents required for considering the arrest and extradition of Singh.

‘Sensitive case’
Sources said the “sensitive case” was now being studied by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), which had also sought inputs from the Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Home Affairs.

Andrabi’s body was found on the bank of river Jhelum in Srinagar on March 27, 1996, over a fortnight after the 42-year-old human rights lawyer was seen being taken away by the personnel of the Rashtriya Rifles.

Protest
The incident triggered widespread protests across the valley.

After much hue and cry by the separatists, civil society organisations and human rights groups, a Special Investigation Team (SIT) was set up following an order by the Jammu and Kashmir High Court.

The Special Investigation Team submitted its initial findings to the high court on April 10, 1997 stating that Singh and some other Rashtriya Rifles personnel were responsible for abduction and murder of Andrabi.

The Indian Army’s representative told the high court that Singh was no more with the Army.

The SIT, in December 2001, submitted a charge sheet against Singh before the CJM of Budgam, who – after prolonged hearing – ordered it to arrest him and produce him before the court on April 30, 2005. The army representative then told the court that Singh was absconding and could not be traced.

Singh – after his stint in Kashmir – was with the Territorial Army at Ludhiana in Punjab. He apparently moved to Canada, before shifting and settling down in California.

The CBI got in touch with Interpol and started efforts to get him extradited from the US, after the CJM in July last year directed the Director General of the premier investigating agency to report to the court the progress and steps taken for execution of the warrant against Singh.


Fast-track court for influential persons

Chandigarh, dhns: Even as the Union Home Ministry is set to strip former Haryana DGP, S P S Rathore of the police medal after his conviction in the Ruchika molestation case, the Punjab and Haryana high court on Monday asked Haryana and Punjab governments to provide details of all cases pending against high ranking officials and politicians in order to fast-track them.

Earlier, Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda had reportedly written to the Union Government recommending withdrawal of the police medal awarded to Rathore for meritorious services in 1985.

Justice Ranjit Singh of the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Monday issued notice to the Home Secretaries of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh  to provide information of all the pending cases involving high officials and politicians before January 12.

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