On Saturday, when a private vehicle carrying four men was stopped at a police checkpoint on the Jammu-Srinagar Highway in South Kashmir, two of them turned out to be wanted Hizbul Mujahideen militants, one was an overground worker of the outfit and the fourth person was a decorated police officer of Jammu and Kashmir DSP Davinder Singh.
Singh was arrested on Saturday evening and interrogated. According to PTI reports, Singh was arrested at Mir Bazar in Kulgam district. The two militants were identified as Naveed Baba, the district commander, and Altaf. The third person was a lawyer.
Inspector General of Police (Kashmir) Vijay Kumar told reporters that Singh, involved in a “heinous” act of ferrying militants, would be treated at par with them.
Calling it an exceptional case where a senior police officer was involved in such a crime, Kumar said, “It is a heinous crime and he will be treated at par with other terrorists.”
Who is Davinder Singh?
Singh, the deputy superintendent of police posted at the sensitive Srinagar International airport, was a decorated police officer who was awarded the President’s Police Medal for Gallantry on Independence Day in 2019.
India Today reported that Singh was accused of ferrying the militants from the Shopian area, possibly out of the Kashmir valley.
The report said that Singh had been under suspicion for his activities. Singh was said to have been under surveillance for over two months and an “interception” revealed those suspicions to be true.
The Afzal Guru angle
This is not the first time that Singh has come under suspicion. Reports suggest that Afzal Guru, the terrorist who was convicted for his role in 2001 Parliament attack, had mentioned Singh’s involvement in the attacks.
The Indian Express reported that in a letter to his lawyer Sushil Kumar, Guru had said that “DSP Davinder Singh”, then posted with J&K Police’s Special Operations Group in Humhama, had asked him to “take Mohammad”, a Pakistani national and co-accused in the Parliament attack case, “to Delhi, rent a flat for his stay and purchase a car for him”.
Here’s what Guru wrote:
“One day Altaf took me to Dravinder Singh (D.S.P). D.S. told me that I had to do a small job for him that has to took one man to delhi as I was well aware about Delhi and has to manage a rented house for him. Since I was not knowing the man but I suspected that this man is not Kashmiri as he did not speak in Kashmiri but I was helpless to do what Dravinder told me. I took him to Delhi. One day he told me that he want to purchase a car. Thus I went with him to Karol Bagh. He purchased the car. Then in Delhi he used to meet different persons and both of us he Mohammad and me used to get the different phone calls from Dravinder Singh.”
Guru in his letter first mentions Singh saying he was tortured at the Humhama STF camp by him and his assistant Shanty Singh. Guru accused them of extorting money from him.
IGP Kumar told the newspaper, “There is nothing as such in our records nor do I know anything about it… We will question him on this... his (Davinder Singh’s) deeds are finally catching up with him. This time, I don’t think anybody can save him.”
Even when Singh’s name had come up earlier, the angle was not probed because it could not be substantiated with evidence.
How was he caught?
PTI reported that on Friday, Singh’s call with Naveed Baba was picked up by intelligence agencies which helped catch him.
Kumar said the militants and the officer were interrogated by the police and then all agencies, including intelligence agencies IB and RAW, working in the valley.
“I called all the security forces and agencies for a joint interrogation which is still going on. One of the militants has been identified as a top commander Naveed who was a police constable in 2017 and had decamped with four rifles from Budgam. He has been involved in police and civilian killings and threatening orchardists. 17 FIRs have been registered against him. He is the district commander of Shopian and 2IC of HM commander Riyaz Naikoo,” Kumar said.
On Saturday when the car approached the checkpoint, it was stopped and the four people were arrested. Inspector General of Police (South Kashmir) Atul Goyal, who oversaw the operation, was present at the scene. Singh is said to have tried to throw his weight around, but was shut down by Goyal.
The police also sent teams to Singh’s home from where two pistols and an AK rifle were recovered.
Part of counter-insurgency teams in the past, Singh would now have to face a tough questioning at the joint interrogation centre.
(With PTI inputs)