On Saturday, a private vehicle with four men in it was flagged down at a police checkpoint on the Jammu-Srinagar Highway in South Kashmir.
Two of the men in it were Hizbul Mujahideen militants, one of whom is wanted for killing migrant workers in South Kashmir in recent months. The third man is described by the police as an “overground worker” – the term for non-combatant members of militant groups tasked with logistics.
The fourth man was a deputy superintendent of the Jammu and Kashmir police, Davinder Singh. Last year, he was one of the 76 Jammu and Kashmir policemen to be awarded the president’s police medal. On Thursday, Singh had been photographed with foreign diplomats visiting Kashmir: he was part of the official team responsible for welcoming them.
According to the police, the vehicle was bound for Jammu. “SP [superintendent of police] Shopian had got a specific input that two militants in an i10 vehicle were travelling towards Jammu,” said Vijay Kumar, the inspector general of police of Kashmir at a press conference in Srinagar on Sunday. “Since the vehicle was moving at a fast speed, SP Shopian informed me and I directed DIG South Kashmir to place a checkpoint in his area.”
Accused by Afzal Guru
The four men were detained at the checkpost in the Wanpoh area of South Kashmir’s Kulgam district and later arrested. Kumar added that the arrested police officer would be treated “at par with militants”.
In a first information report registered by the police, the four men have been booked under various sections of the Indian Arms Act, the Explosive Substances Act and the Unlawful Activities [Prevention] Act.
Singh has been in the public eye before. In 2004, Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru named him in a letter written to his lawyer from Tihar jail. Guru alleged that it was Singh who ordered him to take a man to Delhi and arrange accommodation for him. That man went on to become one of the militants shot dead as they attacked Parliament on December 13, 2001.
Afzal Guru was hung to death in February 2013 for his role in the operation.
Singh [fifth from left] was part of the official team that welcomed foreign envoys to Kashmir in January.
‘A specific input’
According to a police official in South Kashmir, speaking off the record, the vehicle was intercepted on the basis of a specific input about a top militant travelling in a car. The input did not mention a police officer.
“The security personnel didn’t expect the presence of a police officer along with the militants,” explained the police official.
He also said Atul Goel, deputy inspector general of police, South Kashmir, had supervised the checkpoint himself and slapped Singh several times after he was found with the militants.
According to another police officer in South Kashmir, it would have been difficult to arrest the militants and their accomplices if they had crossed the Jawahar tunnel into Jammu. “The car was moving really fast,” he said. “If they had been able to go beyond Banihal [the entry point to Jammu], nobody would have stopped them after that.”