KASHMIR’S UNSUNG HEROES:  Jalil-ul-Qadr Andrabi – III

Amid mounting fears that like so many others, Jalil Andrabi too had been subjected to an enforced disappearance, his body surfaced from the depths of the Jhelum near the Zero Bridge in Srinagar 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 which, the following year, identified a Major posted in the Rawalpora Camp of the 103 Territorial Army as prima facie responsible for the death. But defence 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 SIT submitted a report of its findings to the High Court, which asked the army to present the accused before the Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) in Budgam. Despite repeated requests, the army did not comply.

In December 2001, the SIT submitted a charge-sheet (the final police inquiry report) before the CJM, who admitted it 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 HC Bar Association representing Jalil Andrabi’s family challenged the trial by court martial before the High Court. The petition was sent back to the CJM without clarifying the point whether charge-sheet could be entertained without the accused being brought before the court.

The CJM repeatedly ordered the team to arrest the accused and produce him before the law, but all in vain.   In a press statement dated March 24, 2005, the Amnesty International said: “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.”

-to be continued