Srinagar: “Kashmiris should not forget the sacrifices of the martyrs for our better tomorrow.”
This was the message from lawyers and activists during a seminar organised here Thursday to mark the 18th death anniversary of noted human rights activist and lawyer Jalil Andrabi.
Andrabi was murdered by a unit of Indian Army led by Major Avtar Singh after he was abducted on March 8, 1996. His decomposed body was recovered from the Jhelum on March 27, 1996.
Titled “Martyr Jalil-ul-Qadar Andrabi: A victim of human rights violation”, the seminar was organised by Kashmir High Court Bar Association (KHCBA).
Speaking on the occasion, KHCBA president Advocate Main Abdul Qayoom said that Jalil represented the Kashmir cause at international forums and gave his life for the cause.
“His staunch belief in shahadat (martyrdom) led him to face death smilingly. His message to the nation was clear: don’t compromise with evil and tyrant forces,” Qayoom said.
He said that like Jalil thousands of people offered their lives for the just cause and “the biggest tribute to them will be to emulate their character and follow their path.”
“Let us all make promise to the blood of these martyrs and to this nation that we will take our freedom movement to its logical end,” Qayoom said. “There is no need for Kashmiris to get upset over the present situation. The people should put their faith in Allah and remain steadfast on their path,” he said.
Speaking on the occasion, Advocate Mir Hafizullah who was pursuing the case of Andrabi said that despite having evidence against Major Avtar Singh, the government of India “left no stone unturned to protect him in Canada and the United States.” On June 9, 2012, Avtar Singh shot dead his wife and two sons in his home in Selma, California.
“I was following the case here in Srinagar and was in touch with lawyers and activists in Canada who were trying to get Avtar Singh tried in a war crime tribunal, but Indian government sent their representatives there who told the tribunal that he was being tried under certain charges in India and that they want to take him to India. But instead they took him to the United States,” said Hafizullah. He said that despite court orders and Interpol warrant against Avtar Singh, New Delhi did not take steps for his extradition from the US.
“I followed his case knowing that it would have cost me my life. I am sure that even if India had brought Avtar Singh here, Army would have invoked the law to seek his trial in an Army court,” said Hafizullah, adding that Avtar Singh’s suicide does not mean that justice has been delivered.
Hafizullah said though Avtar Singh committed suicide, “his accomplices are still roaming freely in Kashmir.”
Advocate Nazir Ahmad Ronga said that Andrabi represented Kashmir issue in international conferences on humanitarian grounds “without being an agent of any country.”
“His speech at an international conference in The Hague in 1990 was well researched paper and true representation of the Kashmir cause and human rights abuses in Kashmir, and the Indian representatives did not have any reply to it. This did not go well with the Indian government and they killed him,” said Ronga.
He recalled that when Andrabi returned home from the conference, he had advised him to stay in Delhi for sometime but he did not listen. “When I met him in the High Court here, I asked him why he had returned. His reply was ‘let us have faith in God. I am not afraid if they will kill me, I will be a martyr’,” said Ronga, adding that Andrabi was a brave, well-read, intelligent and good freedom fighter and all Kashmiris particularly lawyers should follow his path.
Former Sessions Judge Nazir Ahmad Fida said that when Andrabi was arrested by the Army and whisked away in a One-Ton vehicle, “I was the first person who went to his house and showed solidarity with his family.” He said he had very close relation with Andrabi and right from very beginning, he was fond of him and he appreciated his revolutionary ideas and thoughts. “It was because of his ideology that Jalil Andrabi gave his life for the noble cause of people of Kashmir. Jalil Andrabi deserves tributes for what he has done in the short span of life.”
Columnist Z G Mohammad on the occasion said that people of Kashmir should introspect and find out “why they failed in freedom struggle on all fronts.”
“The problem with us has been that out freedom lovers particularly our leaders land up in the lap of India. The reason perhaps is that we lack wisdom and knowledge of the international issues,” said Mohammad.
At the end of the seminar, KHCBA gave awards to the families of three teenagers—Wamiq Farooq, Zahid Farooq and Tufail Mattoo—for showing determination and courage in fighting for the justice. The three teenagers were shot dead by government forces in separate incidents in 2010.
“These awards are just an appreciation to their courage and determination in fighting for the justice. These families could have accepted the ex-gratia relief, employment or other things to shut their mouths, but they did not accept anything and continue their fight for justice,” said Qayoom.
Other who spoke during the seminar included Advocates Mufti Meraj-ud-Din, Arshad Andrabi, Mohammad Ashraf Bhat, Mohammad Yousuf Parray, Syed Manzoor, and Bashir Sidiq.