Srinagar: The preliminary interrogation of Jammu & Kashmir Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Davinder Singh has reportedly revealed some details about the nature of his association with local militants.
Singh, police sources said, was used by militants in Kashmir’s Shopian to “ferry and transport” them, and “even hosted” them at his house.
The decorated police officer was arrested this weekend for alleged ties to local militants. He was caught at a checkpost while allegedly ferrying Hizbul Mujahideen commander Syed Naveed, wanted for his alleged involvement in several killings of non-Kashmiris in the Valley last year, from Kashmir to Jammu.
During his interrogation, police sources told ThePrint, Singh had admitted to ferrying Naveed from Kashmir to Jammu last year as well.
At the time, Naveed is believed to have “most likely” visited Jammu to meet his family. Singh had accompanied Naveed on the return journey as well, the sources said.
Asked about Singh’s possible motivation behind helping the militants, a senior police officer said it was yet to be determined.
“Either he was getting large amounts of regular money from his handlers or his relationship with the militants was so old and good that he was carrying out the ferrying service for small amounts of money,” the officer added.
“Singh’s support to the militant group does not, at this moment, seem based on ideological principles. But it is too early in the investigation to negate any angle,” the officer said.
‘Hosted militants at home’
Singh and Naveed, police said, were accompanied by two others at the time of their arrest — a second militant named Rafi Rather and an overground worker identified as Irfan Dar.
Both Rather and Naveed carry bounties of Rs 15-20 lakh on their heads.
Sources said Naveed and his accomplice had stayed at Singh’s residence in Shivpora, Srinagar, opposite the Badami Bagh Cantonment, the night before they left for Jammu. The police officer is believed to own two houses in Srinagar, one in Tral and a fourth outside Kashmir.
Dar, according to police sources privy to investigations so far, served as a mediator between Singh and Hizbul Mujahideen militants.
Police are closely examining Dar’s relationship with Singh, with preliminary findings suggesting that he was “handling the DSP” and making him do jobs for the militant outfit in exchange for money”, sources said.
At his press conference Sunday, Jammu & Kashmir Inspector General of Police (IGP) Vijay Kumar had identified Dar as a law graduate listed as one of the overground workers of the Hizbul Mujahideen.
Dar’s father, police sources said, was a militant who was killed in the turbulent 1990s while exfiltrating into Pakistan from Kashmir.
Family claims innocence
So far, there is no clarity about the purpose of the Kashmir-Jammu trip on which the four were arrested, with police said to be exploring several theories.
According to police sources, one theory is that, as in 2018, Naveed alias Naveed Babu intended to visit his family in Jammu. However, they said, the fact that the Hizbul commander was accompanied by “another militant and an overground worker undermines the theory”.
Another theory is that the suspects were planning to carry out a strike outside Kashmir. The sources refused to elaborate, saying the four men were still being interrogated and it was too early to concretely state that a “terrorist strike” had been averted.
Meanwhile, police have also launched an investigation into Singh’s past.
The DSP’s family, meanwhile, has refused to believe the allegations against him, saying he is innocent.
Singh’s sister-in-law said Monday that his wife had been unable to speak due to “tension resulting from her husband’s arrest”.
“He is innocent. He is being trapped,” the sister-in-law added.
“He (Singh) had left for duty just like any other day and not informed his family about visiting Jammu,” she said, adding that the family also didn’t know that he had applied for leave from Monday.
Relatives from Singh’s native place in Tral said he had not visited the area “for decades” because the area was deeply affected by insurgency.