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Former Indian Army officer accused of Kashmir crimes kills self, family in US

The Indian government sought Avtar Singh's extradition from the US last year for the killing of a human rights lawyer, but he remained free for unknown reasons.

By Associated Press / June 10, 2012



Selma, Calif.

A former Indian army officer wanted in the killing of a human rights lawyer in the disputed Kashmir region shot and killed his own wife and two of their children in their California home before apparently committing suicide, authorities said.

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A 17-year-old believed to be the man's son also was "barely alive" after the attack Saturday morning, Fresno County Sheriff's Deputy Chris Curtice said.

The ex-officer, Avtar Singh, had been arrested in this central California city last year after his wife said he choked her, and the Indian government sought his extradition days after that in the 1996 death of Jalil Andrabi.

But he remained free, for reasons that were not immediately clear. Andrabi's brother and lawyer blamed New Delhi, saying Singh's family would still be alive if the government had tried harder to bring him to justice.

"These lives could have been saved if a trial of Maj. Avtar Singh was conducted on time," said Andrabi's brother, Arshad. "We have lost that chance now. He was a known murderer and we are appalled that he was even shielded in the United States. It's a failure of justice at all levels."

Singh, who owned a trucking company in Selma, called police around 6:15 a.m. Saturday and told them that he had just killed four people, Curtice said. He added that a sheriff's SWAT team was called in to assist because of Singh's military background and the India charges against him.

When the SWAT team entered the home they found the bodies of Singh, a woman believed to be his wife and two children, Curtice said. All appeared to have died from gunshot wounds.

The 17-year-old suffered severe head trauma and underwent surgery at a hospital where he remained in intensive care Saturday evening, Curtice said.

Singh, 47, was arrested by Selma police in February 2011 when his wife reported that he had choked her, Selma Police Chief Myron Dyck said shortly after that arrest. Police then discovered that he was being sought in India, but Dyck said at the time that he could not keep Singh in custody on the murder charge without a warrant from international authorities.

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