Amid a war of words between the Congress and the BJP over disgraced Jammu and Kashmir DSP Davinder Singh’s alleged role in the Pulwama terror attack, authorities have clarified that Singh was moved out of Pulwama a couple of months before the strike in February on the CRPF convoy. Police sources in the Valley claim Singh was moved to the anti-hijacking unit and posted at Srinagar airport towards the end of 2018. "He was the DSP of Pulwama DAR-district armed guards. He was not a part of the Special Operations Group. At the end of 2018, he was moved out of Pulwama to the airport." The Special Operations Group is the counter-insurgency unit of the Jammu and Kashmir Police.
Jammu and Kashmir Police are now investigating the possible role of disgraced DSP Davinder Singh in August 25, 2017 ‘fidayeen’ attack on the District Police Lines in Pulwama in which four policemen were killed.
Singh, who was arrested after found transporting two Hizbul Mujahideen militants to Jammu on January 11, was posted at the Police Lines when three Jaish-e-Mohammad fidayeen staged an attack.
Davinder Singh was present at the police lines in Pulwama that night, sources said, adding that despite not being a member of Special Operation Group (SOG), JK Police’s elite anti-militancy wing, he voluntarily took part in the operation. The act won him the Sher-e-Kashmir Police Gallantry Medal, J&K’s highest police medal.
A police statement on Tuesday said the gallantry medal was awarded to Singh by the erstwhile J&K state on Independence Day for his participation in countering the fidayeen attack.
Singh, who started his career as a Sub-Inspector in the 1990s, has always been a controversial figure in the police force.
He got an out-of-turn promotion in 1997 and was made an Inspector. In 2003, he was promoted to DSP but was never promoted again.
He served in the SOG for 14 years and in the counter-insurgency wing for another three years.
In 1993, he caught a man with an assignment of cannabis while he was posted at police station Ram Munshi Bagh. Sources said he not only let off the man but also sold off the cannabis.
A departmental inquiry held him guilty for the act and recommended his dismissal, but a senior officer came to his rescue and his dismissal stopped.
He was also involved in confiscating a truck loaded with dairy products on the Jammu-Srinagar National highway but letting it go without taking any action. “He was a master extortionist but always got away,” a source said.
His possible links with militants emerged a few weeks ago after police got a whiff about him transporting a top Hizbul Mujahideen commander Naveed Babu from Shopian to Srinagar.
Sources said he had sheltered Babu at one of his two residences in Srinagar – at Indira Nagar and Sanat Nagar.
He also owns a house in Jammu and a flat in Delhi, sources said.
At the time of his arrest by police led by DIG, South Kashmir Atul Goel on the highway in Kulgam, Singh told the cops that the men in his vehicle were his Personal Security Officials (PSOs), sources say.
“On being quizzed by Goel, Singh told him it was an operation and that he has damaged the game,” the source said.
During interrogation, Singh has insisted he was carrying out an operation and that “Jammu and Kashmir Police would have come out with flying colours after the operation”.
Sources said he had been in touch with Babu for a long time. “Last year he had transported Babu to Jammu and kept him at his home,” a source said.
Singh is currently being questioned by a joint team of J&K and Central intelligence agencies.
Sources say Singh needed funds for constructing his mansion near Army 15 Corps Headquarter here.
Police is also investigating the role of the lawyer Irfan who was driving the car and was carrying his passport.
The plan was to help Babu escape to Pakistan, sources said. Irfan, having travelled to Pakistan on multiple occasions, was well versed with procedures to travel to Pakistan.
“Irfan had visited Pakistan five times in the past,” a source said. “Irfan’s father was also a militant who was killed in an encounter in the 1990s”.
The National Investigation Agency has taken over the probe.
The Ministry of Home Affairs approved the transfer to the NIA, following the revelations made by Singh during his interrogation to a joint team of the NIA, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), the Intelligence Bureau (IB), and Jammu and Kashmir Police’s CID.
The NIA can now interrogate Singh thoroughly to find out the real motive of the terrorists and his links to Hizbul Mujahideen and other terrorist organisations during their previous operations in the Valley.
On January 11, Jammu and Kashmir Police intercepted a car at Mir Bazaar before the Jawahar tunnel in Kulgam district and found Singh was travelling to Jammu along with two top Hizbul Mujahideen terrorists – Naveed Babu and Asif Ahmad — and lawyer Rafi Ahmad.
The police had intercepted the vehicle while tracking the movements and location of Babu, a former Special Police Officer when he made a phone call to his brother.
Babu is accused of being involved in the killing of 11 people from outside Kashmir, including truck drivers and labourers in south Kashmir in October and November last year, and forcing a shutdown in south Kashmir after the abrogation of Article 370 on August 5 last year.
All were arrested and a case initially lodged at Qazigund police station in Kulgam.
During his interrogation, Singh, however, maintained that he had no any link to Hizbul militants and that he was taking the terrorists to surrender but interrogators have dismissed his claims.
As per sources, a sum of Rs 12 lakh may have been given to Singh to move out the two Hizbul militants to Jammu on their way to Chandigarh and onward to Delhi to carry out attacks on or before the Republic Day.
Singh, who was posted in the anti-hijacking squad at the Srinagar international airport, was suspended from service on Monday and is likely to be stripped of all his awards, including a gallantry medal for anti-militancy operations on August 15 last year.
However, the Jammu and Kashmir Police has clarified that “he was never awarded any gallantry or meritorious medal by the Ministry of Home Affairs as has been reported by some sections of the media”.
In a series of tweets, it said that Singh was only awarded a “gallantry medal during his service by the erstwhile J&K state on Independence Day 2018″ for his “participation in countering a fidayeen attack by terrorists at the district police lines in Pulwama on August 25-26, 2017, when he was posted as a DSP in the district police lines, Pulwama”.
Singh had disclosed that he had put up the terrorists at his Indira Nagar house in Srinagar, right next to the Army’s 15 Corps Headquarters, and thereafter accompanied them to Jammu in a car driven by the Hizbul overground worker, an intelligence source said.
Since the arrest of Singh and the two Hizb militants, security agencies carried out multiple raids across the Union Territory, especially Srinagar and south Kashmir, and seized a huge cache of arms and ammunition stashed by the officer and the terrorists.
Jammu and Kashmir Police have claimed to have recovered an AK-47 rifle and two pistols from Singh’s residence in Badami Bagh Cantonment in Srinagar and another AK rifle as well as a pistol based on Babu’s confession.
Jammu and Kashmir Police chief Dilbag Singh on Monday spoke to officials at the Ministry of Home Affairs about the developments in the valley since the arrest of Singh and two militants. Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla was also briefed about the incident on Monday and a report of the initial questioning of Singh was also shared with him through other officials in the Home Ministry. (IANS)