By Zaffar Iqbal
Srinagar: Deputy Superintendent of Jammu & Kashmir Police Devinder Singh who was arrested while taking two top Hizbul Mujahideen militants Naveed Babu and Asif Ahmad and a lawyer Rafi Ahmad to Jammu in a car in South Kashmir on Saturday, had been on the police’s radar for several weeks.
According to details accessed by IANS he had gone to Shopian to bring Naveed Babu to Srinagar some days before and was now helping Naveed and his accomplice to escape to Jammu.
“The real aim was to help Naveed and Asif move out of Kashmir and to go to Pakistan,” sources said, “Rafi had expertise in arranging and ferrying people to Pakistan.”
The police have recovered grenades and AK 47 rifles during a search at Singh’s residence in Srinagar.
“Money must have been the only motive for Singh to help the militants,” sources said.
The 57-year-old officer hails from Ovarigund Tral in south Kashmir’s Pulwama. The family owns orchards in Tral and his parents live with his brother Naseeb Singh in Delhi.
“Singh had received many militant threats in the past which was the reason for him to move to relatively safe location at Indira Nagar in Srinagar, sources said.
After completing his graduation from Amar Singh College in Srinagar, he joined police as sub inspector in 1990. His wife is a teacher and he has three children, two daughters, who are doing MBBS in Bangladesh, while and son Birinder Singh is in school.
During his 10-year stint in the Special Operations Group (SOG) in the nineties, Singh gained prominence for taking part in anti-militancy operations. For his role he was given an out-of-turn promotion and made inspector in the late 90s. During an operation he was injured in the leg in Budgam.
Afzal Guru, who was hanged in 2013 for his role in Parliament attack in one of his letters he wrote to his lawyer had alleged Singh had tortured him in custody and then tasked him to take a militant to Delhi and arrange for his accommodation there. The militant was one those who was killed during the attack on Parliament. According to sources, Singh was never questioned after Afzal’s letter named him.
Sources say Singh’s record against militancy helped him to get away with all his ‘misdeeds’. “It must have been a regular affair for him to harbour militants,” sources said. “In the past he was subject of many inquiries regarding extortion and corruption but was exonerated in all the cases.”
Singh is also said to have carjacked a truck carrying timber, owned by a relative of former Chief Minister Ghulam Mohideen Shah.
“He was never questioned, and the incentive for actively working against militancy could have played a part in exonerating him for all his crimes.”
A decorated officer, he was also part of a UN peacekeeping mission in 2003 for a year. He was awarded the President’s Police Medal for Gallantry last year. Sources said he has two properties in Srinagar and one in Jammu.
After serving in the Special Operations Group of J&K Police he was transferred to the traffic police.
Sources said after his arrest he stands suspended. “He was one bad apple that has been shunted out from the force, he will be punished and dismissed from service,” sources said.
According to sources, Naveed who was arrested with Singh, was the most wanted Hizbul Mujahideen militant in Kashmir and was involved in the killing of non-local truckers and threatening fruit farmers after the abrogation of Article 370.
Sources said Naveed was also a 2012-batch police constable. He had been arrested once and released later. Naveed was transferred to Leh before he was moved to Budgam where was put on a guard duty. In September 2017 he deserted the police and escaped with five AK 47 rifles while on duty.