Avoid sequels of Avtar
Justice must prevail
Some people in Kashmir are rejoicing the news, which has confirmed the death of Major [Retd.] Avtar Singh on June 9th, Saturday, in Selma, California. Frankly speaking, I am not.
Major Avtar, as many in Kashmir are fully aware, was accused of the brutal murder of one of the Kashmir’s leading human rights defender, Jaleel Andrabi, in 1996. Major Avtar of the 35 Rashtriya Rifles unit was also allegedly involved in killing four counterinsurgents, who most probably knew all the shabby details how the said Army officer had ended Andrabi’s life. After dodging for some time, fugitive Avtar had finally taken refuge in California, USA where he had reportedly kept a low profile. But last year, Avtar had featured in the news related to a case of domestic violence involving him. This domestic abuse case was filed by his wife, now deceased.
It seems that Avtar was all along carrying a sense of “guilt” with him. Quite possible that this very “guilty feeling” after silencing a formidable voice like Jaleel Andrabi and others in restive Kashmir, Avtar was not able to sleep well even in safe environs of California. Or, may be, his decision to shoot down his wife and children, and finally himself too, had nothing to do with the murder of Mr. Andrabi. Anything is possible.
Many in Kashmir are feeling excited that finally there was “divine intervention” and “justice delivered”. I am not excited at all. I vehemently believe that Avtar’s wife and children had nothing to do with his “sick mindset” which would tempt him to slaughter innocents. Murderer Avtar was not only accused of killing Andrabi but also widely believed to be involved in murdering some others in similar cases in Kashmir in late 1990’s. Sixteen years later, this Monster Major went on further to kill his family and then shot himself dead, too. The story, by any stretch of imagination, does not end here.
There are many others allegedly involved in orchestrating some fake encounters and thereby killing many innocents in Kashmir. Painful memories of Pathribal fake encounter, in March 2000, immediately come to haunt us.
There are many Major Avtars holding their heads high, in esteem. They’re sitting pretty. They’re damn sure that no system can ever put them on trial. They’re relaxed, knowing that they’re above law. They’re aware that they can get away with anything because they enjoy impunity and the protective shield of various draconian laws like the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act [AFSPA], Public Safety Act [PSA] and Disturbed Areas Act [DAA]. They have been assured that they shall enjoy lifetime immunity from all unpleasant consequences. Such warranty and guaranty system is deadly dangerous.
No one amongst us is sure in exactly what circumstances did Major Avtar decide to kill his wife, two children, and himself. We’re unsure about his mental state at that time when he took such a devastating decision for self and his family. All we can do is to make some intelligent and wild guesses. One such guess could be that Avtar was no Avtar, but a man with sick mindset and criminal intent. Under no circumstances could he control his strong emotions and anger. Another guess could be that he had finally discovered a good human being inside, and was therefore feeling very guilty of what he had done in Kashmir by killing Andrabi and others for no fault of theirs. Or, he was perhaps not happy with his married life and wanted to end the story anyway. Whatever the reality, one can only make guesses: both intelligent and wild!
If one were to believe that Avtar was nurturing this guilty feeling all along, it is a real bad news for India and its mighty Army. Irrespective of the delays and failures of the system, many officers and soldiers of Army, Paramilitary and Police, who have been involved in killing innocents in Kashmir or elsewhere, will take such harsh steps at some point in time. Some of them will commit suicide. Some will go a step further and follow the bad example set by Avtar. I am worried about their families, their wives and children, who are not partners in crimes. Others will take heart from the impunity and immunity they enjoy under the cover of black laws and will conduct experiments of fake encounters outside Kashmir as well.
This, in my opinion, is a huge challenge before the Indian civil society to convince their government and ministries of home and defence to allow free flow of justice. It is highly unlikely that things will get better in a jiffy. But if Indian masses want to save their innocents, their children, members of their families, they need to speak up before it is too late.
Justice must flow like a mighty stream. Or else, one may have to witness many sequels of Avtar!
(Gowher Geelani is a Kashmiri journalist based in Germany. Feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Lastupdate on : Thu, 14 Jun 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 14 Jun 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 15 Jun 2012 00:00:00 IST
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