New Delhi: The dramatic arrest on Saturday of a senior Jammu and Kashmir police officer who was accompanying two wanted terrorists to Delhi has revived the debate over not just illicit links between the security establishment and Kashmir militants but also the role of Afzal Guru in the 2001 terrorist attack on parliament.
The arrested officer, deputy superintendent of police Davinder Singh, was named by Afzal at the time as a key go-between in the 2001 incident but his role in the parliament case was never investigated the authorities.
On January 11, he was caught travelling with two militants on the Srinagar-Jammu highway, en route to Delhi. The police recovered AK-47s and other arms from the car they were in.
Addressing a press conference on Sunday, inspector general of police for J&K Vijay Kumar was quoted by PTI as saying that although Singh “has worked on several anti-militancy operations but the circumstances under which he was arrested yesterday when he was driving the car with militants towards Jammu is a heinous crime. That is why he is being treated at par with the militants.”
Some reports have also noted that Singh has been booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. TV18 reported that the IGP denied having any knowledge of Singh’s connection to Afzal. “There are no such records. However, the police will look into the matter.” But on social media, the arrest attracted attention precisely because of Afzal having named Singh.
This is huge! So the decorated police officer Davinder Singh whom Afzal Guru had accused of forcing him to help set up the terrorists who attacked Parliament in 2001, is found to be involved with several terrorists.Obviously he was protected then. Why?Were bigger people involved? https://t.co/8CcR7dfFE2
— Prashant Bhushan (@pbhushan1) January 12, 2020
The two militants caught with Davinder Singh, who is posted as DSP at Srinagar airport, are Naveed Babu, said to be top commander of the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba and Altaf of the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen.
Singh had been awarded the Police Medal for Meritorious Service last year. Naveed was wanted for his role in the killing of labourers from Bihar and West Bengal in October last year – one of the first times that militants in the valley had targeted workers from other parts of India.
It is not clear why Singh was taking Naveed and Altaf to Delhi, especially since Delhi is usually placed on high alert in the run up to Republic Day on January 26 when the police say terrorist groups like to stage a high-profile attack.
Davinder Singh’s name came into national prominence when Afzal Guru’s lawyer, Sushil Kumar, released a letter Guru wrote in his own hand which provided details of the role Davinder – referred to as ‘Dravinder Singh’ in the letter – played in introducing Guru to one of the men who later attacked parliament. After first recounting the circumstances under which he met Davinder Singh sometime in 2000, when Davinder and his assistant, Shanty Singh, tortured him at the Humhamma STF camp and then extorted money from him as well, he then wrote about a meeting in 2001, sometime before parliament was attacked:
“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.”
Mohammad was one of the men who attacked parliament on December 13, 2001 and was shot dead within its precincts. Guru was hanged for his involvement in the attack in 2013. His claim that phone records would establish Davinder Singh had been in touch with him and Mohammad was ignored and left uninvestigated.
According to PTI, deputy inspector general of South Kashmir Atul Goyal was supervising the operation which caught Davinder Singh’s car at a police barricade at Mir Bazar in Kulgam of South Kashmir on January 11.
The DIG, according to the eyewitness, lost his cool at the DSP. Two AK rifles were seized from the car. A search was conducted at his residence and the police allegedly seized two pistols and one AK rifle, the officials said.
Director General of Police Dilbagh Singh did not respond to repeated attempts to seek comments from him on the issue.