Arrest Avtar and impound passport, said HC; for years govt did nothing

A high court order to arrest a former Territorial Army major accused of killing Kashmiri human rights activist Jaleel Andrabi in 1996 remained unexecuted for at least four years — during which the officer continued in service before subsequently moving to Canada and the United States.

Major Avtar Singh killed his wife and two children before committing suicide at their home in Selma, California, on Saturday. He had been missing for over a decade, and was facing extradition after having been "found" last year.

Justice Bilal Nazki of Jammu and Kashmir High Court had, along with Justice R C Gandhi, issued orders on April 10, 1997, to arrest Major Singh, impound his passport and exhibit his pictures in the electronic and print media after they heard a petition filed by the High Court Bar Association in Srinagar.

However, the government took no action against Singh — who was then posted with the Territorial Army in Ludhiana — and several others indicted for Andrabi's killing in an investigation carried out by a special investigation team of the J&K Police set up by the court.

" Besides (providing) justice to his (Singh's) victims in Kashmir, we would have avoided the loss of more innocent lives that he took when he killed his family in the United States (on Saturday)," Justice Nazki, who retired as Chief Justice of Orissa High Court in November 2009, told The Indian Express.

" While I was hearing the case we set up a special investigation team of the J&K Police to probe the murder. The investigation was led by an efficient IPS officer from Bihar, I K Mishra, who was then the senior superintendent of police in Srinagar. I was personally convinced that the best investigation was done by the SIT," Justice Nazki said.

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