Major Avtar Singh, a former soldier wanted in the disappearance and murder case of lawyer and rights actvisit Jalil Andrabi besides ten others has been spotted in the California in US, this time on camera. 

Singh who was earlier said to be hiding in Canada has been evading arrest since 1996.  Singh is living in Selma town that falls in the Fresno county of California. He is in transport business.

Last week he was briefly arrested on charges of beating his wife and was later released on bail.

The arrest led a local channel’s correspondent Corin Hoggard to catch Singh on camera for the first time. Singh admitted he is the same soldier who is accused of the lawyer’s killing. California police said Singh is under surveillance.

Singh also claimed that he had threats from al Qaeda. “Because of the allegations, I am afraid I am a wanted man – not by the Indian government, but by al-Qaeda. If I’m exposed on this, the Islamic militants, they’re already looking for me.”

Meanwhile J&K police which denied any al Qaeda threat to Singh have revived their efforts to get him extradited. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said on twitter that efforts to get Singh extradited were on.

Army has already termed him a deserter but the mystery remains – who helped him to escape from Haryana. Singh’s wife comes from north Kashmir’s Baramulla district, but her family lives in Srinagar now.

Disappeared on March 8, 1996, Jaleel’s body was found 19 days later. In April, 1997, the Special Investigation Team presented its initial findings to the High Court. The SIT said that Major Avtar Singh from the 103rd Unit of the Territorial Army and other soldiers were responsible for the abduction and killing of Jaleel. The SIT was unable to arrest Major Avtar Singh as they could not find him.

Stinking dismissal
A day after a prominent hotel’s kitchen was raided by a municipal team, and seized sub-standard food from there, Health Officer Dr Riyaz Ahmad Dar was relieved from his duties, while food inspector Shakeel Ahmad Bhat was suspended.

While sources in the department attributed the development directly to the raid, the officials maintained the health officer was shown the door for “poor perfromance”

Bhat was suspended hours after a team led by him raided Broadway Hotel on Maulana Azad Road in Srinagar and seized “contaminated food” from the hotel.

According to reports, the health officer had received a written complaint about the contaminated food in the Hotel after which he directed the food inspector to go for an inspection.

Commissioner SMC, Sheikh Mushtaq told a local newspaper that the action against the officials was an “official matter” while as Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Asgar Samoon said the action was prompted by “worsening municipal problems”.

“This is our own internal matter. We can’t talk about it,” Mushtaq was quoted by daily newspaper Rising Kashmir.

Samoon termed the timing of the action as coincidental.

“This is a mere coincidence that the punishment against the officer has come at the same time he raided the hotel. The work of the health officer was not satisfactory. The garbage is littered everywhere,” said Samoon.

However, not many are convinced by the official argument. Quoting sources, Rising Kashmir reported that Commissioner SMC was pressurized by influential persons for taking action against the food inspector and the health officer.

It also reported that Hotel Broadway owes Rs 40,000 as sanitation fee to the SMC.

Ladakh logo
Ladakh was back in news for its efforts to distance itself with the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The Congress-led Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council in Leh has adopted a new logo that will be used as a flag on its official vehicles instead of the state flag.

“We will use the logo as a flag on our vehicles on one side while there will be the Tricolour on the other side. The logo will also be used in our letter pads. So far as official functions are concerned, only the Tricolour will be hoisted,” chief executive councillor Ringzin Spalbar said.

Spalbar said the council had never used the state flag since it was formed in 1995. “We will continue that practice (of not using it).”

Meanwhile Bhartiya Janata Party MP Rajiv Pratap Rudy brought a private member’s resolution in Lok Sabha to press for formation of a separate centrally administered union territory of Ladakh.

It pointed out that the Ladakh region with an area of 86,904 square kilometres has only one representative in Parliament and two in the J&K Assembly and as such its people’s voice is lost to get proper recognition to their needs and aspirations.

Pointing out that Ladakh district has long border with China manned by the Indian Army and paramilitary forces requiring day-to-day monitoring by the Centre, the resolution said it is essential to have this region directly administered by the Centre “to establish bilateral trade (with China) and prevent illegitimate trading (read smuggling).”


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