Less than a fortnight after his arrest with top militants, new revelations suggest more than what Kashmir knows, reports Saima Bhat
As the federal investigator NIA has taken the custody of DySP Davinder Singh and his friends on a fortnight-long remand, the questioned are being asked from diverse quarters. Not many details are available in Jammu and Kashmir. Even the officials are seen hissing about the embarrassing development.
“Singh’s case is all the more embarrassing because he was deputed at a very sensitive anti-hijacking unit at Srinagar airport. Although his own record may have been doubtful, Afzal Guru, who was hanged in the case of the attack on the Parliament, had made serious allegations against him,” Shashi Shekhar, the editor in chief of The Hindustan Times wrote, insisting “Singh is just a small cog in the wheel.” He asked: “What was the intelligence machinery doing? Are there other people too who are corrupting our systems? This question will be forgotten until the next such incident takes place.”
Srinagar lives in uneasy calm. People hardly talked about Singh. Perhaps, they are unaware of things. The revelations, however, are coming from Delhi.
To the utter shock, Ahmad Ali Fayaz wrote in The Quint that the deserted cop Naveed Babu, who had emerged the No 2 in Hizbul Mujahideen had comfortably stayed in Jammu from December to February in 2018-19 with the help of same DSP.
“Police have learned from preliminary questioning of the detained terrorists, as also from other sources, that Naveed had reached Jammu and arranged an accommodation for himself with the help of Dy SP anti-hijacking at Srinagar Airport, Davinder Singh,” he reported. The news portal reported that due to snowfall, quite a number of militants have been shifting to Jammu every winter. “Sometimes they simply hide but sometimes they plan and execute terror acts,” it said.
Now, the police are investigating the March 7, 2019, grenade attack that killed two young civilians, one each from Uttarakhand and Mattan (Anantnag), and left 30 more injured.
After the blast, Fayaz reported police had intercepted a Srinagar-bound vehicle and arrested a 15-year-old class 9th student Yasir Javed Bhat of Khanpora Dassen (Kulgam).
“According to Police, Yasir alias Chhotu alias Arhan had revealed that Farooq Ahmad Bhat, had indoctrinated him into terrorism and given him the task of lobbing a grenade in Jammu. Later in March, Police had lodged the detained teenager at Juvenile Observation Home at RS Pura,” reads the report. But the same day the family of Bhat protested denying all allegations against their son asserting he had left home just one day ago.
The other revelation was made by senior journalist Praveen Swami, who is an expert on defence issues and has extensively covered Kashmir. He has reported that RAW, India’s external intelligence gatherer had sustained contacts with Singh. “The operation also involved contact with Irfan Shafi Mir, a Shopian-based lawyer arrested along with Singh, the sources said,” Swamy reported on the TV News18 website. “Singh did not either inform or seek authorization from his RAW contacts before allegedly accepting Rs12,00,000 from Naveed to transport him to a safe house in Jammu, and then on to Chandigarh.”
Swamy alleged: “The government is seeking to suppress key facts in the investigation into Singh’s conduct. The Congress has also claimed that Singh may have had a role in engineering last year’s terrorist attack in Pulwama, which led India and Pakistan to the edge of war.” He also quotes his source from the meeting headed by national security advisor Ajit Doval where “he was briefed on the operation by RAW chief Samant Goel last week. In the meeting, the NSA expressed concern over missteps made in the course of the operation.”
“From what we know so far”, his report quoted an official saying, “there’s more than a little suggestion of incompetence in RAW’s handling of Davinder Singh, but nothing to suggest malign intent, or a crime”. Initiated late in October, RAW’s effort to infiltrate the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen formed part of a wider effort in the intelligence community to cultivate new sources following the communications shutdown imposed in Jammu and Kashmir in August, it reads.
“RAW’s Srinagar station reached out to Singh who had served with the police’s counter-terrorist Special Operations Group from the mid-1990s to 2003 for assistance with the operation. The son of an orchard-owning family from Ovarigund in Tral, Singh was known to be familiar with jihadist networks in southern Kashmir,” the report said.
RAW failed to exercise adequate oversight over Singh allowing him to use the opportunity for personal benefit, the report said, adding RAW was also unaware about Singh’s plans of the journey that led to his arrest.