Senior J&K cop is in a tight spot

What drove decorated police officer Davinder Singh to aid militants in Kashmir, explores RIYAZ WANI

Davinder Singh, a senior J&K Police cop, who was caught accompanying two top Hizbul Mujahideen militants to New Delhi ahead of Republic Day hailed from South Kashmir’s Tral, a hometown he shared with the slain popular Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani. Though there is no evidence whether Singh and Wani knew each other, the arrest of Singh along with Naveed Babu, Hizb’s No 2, makes it appear his ties with the outfit went back a long way.

Tral is an important place for another reason too: it is from here that the “new age militancy” began from 2015 onwards and radiated across South Kashmir. It falls in district Pulwama where Singh was posted twice in the last three years. And on both occasions militants had been able to strike in a big way: In August 2017, militants stormed police lines in Pulwama. The 19-hour gun battle resulted in the killing of CRPF men and four policemen besides the three militants who carried out the attack. Davinder Singh was there in the early morning when the attack took place. Singh was posted in Pulwama from May 2017 to August 8, 2018.

Similarly, Singh was again posted in Pulwama when more than forty CRPF personnel were killed during a suicide attack on a security convoy.

What is more, even Afzal Guru, hanged for his role in 2001 parliament attack had in a letter accused Singh of forcing him to accompany an attacker “Mohammad” to New Delhi and arranging an accommodation for him there. The attacker was subsequently killed during attack on the parliament. The accusation was never investigated, although in an interview to media in 2006, Singh had admitted to torturing Guru in custody but denied sending any militant with him.

Singh was recruited as a sub-inspector in J&K Police in 1994 when he had just finished graduation from a Srinagar college. He later joined the Special Operations Group (SoG) of the police which was exclusively tasked to combat militancy. But following complaints of extortion, Singh was removed from the SOG. In 2003, he was part of a UN peacekeeping mission in Kosovo for a year.

Now his arrest along with militants has set alarm bells ringing not only in t J&K’s security establishment which prides itself for being at the forefront of the fight against militancy in the country, but also in New Delhi. It has raised deeply troubling questions. Who is Singh? Who was he working for? Was he helping militants carry out a sensational attack in New Delhi ahead of Republic Day? What was his role in two major attacks in Pulwama, including the last year’s bombing? Or for that matter in parliament attack? What were his motivations? Was he working for militants or were militants working for him?

These are questions crying for answers. On its part, J&K Police has made a major breakthrough by arresting Singh along with two militants and a lawyer. The militants had been staying at Singh’s residence at high security Indira Nagar. And the early investigation into his role has revealed that he had harboured militants at his house even before. Incidentally, militant Naveed Babu who was arrested with him was himself a police deserter, fleeing with four rifles in 2017 to join militancy.

Incidentally, days before being caught with militants, Singh was part of the security team who had received the 16 foreign envoys at Srinagar airport. He was filmed standing right behind one of the convoys.

The probe into the case has now been handed over to National Investigation Agency (NIA) which is expected to reveal the motive behind Singh’s action. It is one of the most sensitive cases to be investigated by the NIA in a long time. And people will expect that the agency gets to the bottom of it and uncover the biggest mystery: what drove a decorated police officer to aid the militants. Who was using whom?