SRINAGAR – The J&K Police on Saturday detained a senior police officer after two militants and five grenades were recovered from the vehicle he was travelling in, top sources said.
Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Devinder Singh was detained in the Mir Bazar area of south Kashmir’s Kulgam district.
The police intercepted his vehicle and arrested two active militants and recovered five grenades from it, reports said.
“The fast moving car was stopped and searched. Two wanted militants and our officer… and a third person were arrested in the operation,” Inspector General of Police Vijay Kumar told reporters.
Kumar said police and intelligence agencies were questioning Singh, accusing the officer of a “heinous crime”.
Security forces recovered guns and ammunition from several locations in the follow up to the arrests, including from Singh’s residence in Shivpora, a hgh security zone in the Badamibagh army cantonment area here.
Singh had risen steadily through the ranks of the Kashmir security apparatus during his career and was last year awarded a medal by the Indian president for his service.
Singh had previously worked for the Special Operations Group (SOG), the counter insurgency wing of police, and was now serving in the anti-hijacking squad at Srinagar International Airport.
On Thursday, Singh had been photographed with foreign diplomats visiting Kashmir: he was part of the official team responsible for welcoming them.
This is really big news. A senior Indian security officer-who was reportedly involved with that foreign diplomats' visit to Kashmir last week-is being investigated for alleged ties to a top Kashmiri militant commander. https://t.co/7qxs4vZZuM
— Michael Kugelman (@MichaelKugelman) January 12, 2020
But years earlier he was accused of forcing a man to help armed militants travel to New Delhi in a deadly attack on the Indian parliament in 2001.
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 hanged in February 2013 for his role in the operation.
Who is Devinder Singh?
What’s his role in 2001 Parliament Attack?
What’s his role in Pulwama Attack, where he was Dy SP DR?
Was he carrying Hizbul terrorists on his own or Is he only a pawn,as master conspirators are elsewhere?
A bigger conspiracy?https://t.co/DRt8PdXGkx
— Randeep Singh Surjewala (@rssurjewala) January 13, 2020
These revelations were made public by Afzal Guru’s family after he was hanged on February 9, 2013.
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.”
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”.
Reports quoting a police official in South Kashmir said, the vehicle was intercepted on the basis of a specific input about Naveed Baba, the deputy commander of the Hizbul Mujahideen travelling in a car. The input did not mention a police officer.
Baba had stolen four assault rifles and deserted the police force to join the militant group in 2017, according to police.
“The security personnel didn’t expect the presence of a police officer along with the militants,” explained the police official.
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.
“As I said earlier, his [Davinder’s] joint interrogation is on,” said Kumar. “Since the matter is sensitive, all the agencies, like security forces, police, IB [Intelligence Bureau], RAW [Research and Analysis Wing] and CID are involved just to ensure that there’s no loophole.”
Asked about the photographs of Singh with the foreign envoys, Kumar said the police had no idea about his involvement with militants at the time.
Police meanwhile identified the overground worker arrested on January 11 as Irfan Shafi, a lawyer from Diaroo in Shopian district. According to officials, Shafi drove the car while Singh sat next to him.
In the back of the car was Naveed Mushtaq, alias Naveed Babu, a policeman-turned-militant.
According to Kumar, he was a senior commander of the Hizbul Mujahideen, second only to its operations chief, Riyaz Naikoo. “He was a police constable in 2017 and fled from Budgam along with four rifles,” said Kumar. “He is involved in the killings of civilians, policemen and truck drivers. Last year, a lot of orchards were damaged and people were threatened by him. Until today, 17 FIRs are registered against him. He was the most wanted for us and was the district commander of Shopian.”
Also in the back of the car with Mushtaq was Rafi Ahmed Rather, another Hizbul Mujahideen militant, from Batapora village in Imam Sahib.