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Home > 2020 > The curious case of Davinder Singh | Faraz Ahmad

Mainstream, VOL LVIII No 31, New Delhi, July 18, 2020

The curious case of Davinder Singh | Faraz Ahmad

Friday 17 July 2020, by Faraz Ahmad

Seven months after catching Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) police Deputy Superintendent of Police (Dy SP) Davinder Singh escorting two alleged terrorists belonging reportedly to Hizbul Mujahideen group of Pakistan, in his Hyundai i10 car on the Srinagar-Jammu highway, the premier National Investigations Agency (NIA) finally presented a charge-sheet in a NIA special court in Jammu on July 6. Curiously nearly a month before that a Delhi court granted him bail for the failure of Delhi Police to file a charge sheet against Davinder Singh.

Singh was arrested on January 11 with two alleged HuM terrorists Naveed babu, Mushtaq Rather and their overground contact and a lawyer Irfan Shafi when they were stopped at a check post while ostensibly driving down to Jammu. Several news channels also reported that the HuM men being escorted by Davinder Singh were heading for Delhi to launch one more Parliament style attack in the national capital and presumably Davinder Singh was in the know of it when he decided to provided them the necessary cover to facilitate their journey to Delhi in his car.

From day one Davinder Singh’s case was very curious and is becoming progressively curiouser by the day. The NIA has now come out with the charge that Davinder Singh was “in touch with certain officials of the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi through secure social media platforms.”

The NIA charge sheet stated that, “The investigation has revealed that the accused were part of a deep-rooted conspiracy hatched by the Pakistan based terrorist organisation Hizbul Mujahideen and Pakistan State Agencies to commit violent acts and to wage a war against the Union of India…” So in effect the NIA has concluded that Davinder Singh was complicit in “waging a war against the Union of India.”

But less than a month ago Delhi Police raised no objections when Davinder Singh’s counsel sought bail in New Delhi from the court of Special Judge Dharmender Rana on the grounds that no charge sheet has been filed by the Delhi Police even after the prescribed limit of 90 days has passed and the Police has not even sought any extension for this purpose from the court! This apparently implied that till the date the Judge granted Davinder Singh bail, the other investigating agencies like the Delhi Police which had registered a case against Davinder Singh who had been brought to Delhi after his arrest had no clue why they had put him in jail. Upon Davinder Singh’s arrest, the Delhi Police had mindlessly slapped a case that this group were actually working for Mumbai’s underworld don Dawood Ibrahim who fled after Mumbai bomb blasts of 1993 to Karachi and presumably settled there.

The NIA, on the other hand, claimed that Davinder Singh was in touch with the Pakistan embassy officials in Delhi and was surreptitiously working for Pakistani terrorist outfits for long. But since when, they won’t tell. But once the investigating agencies have presumably established that Davinder Singh was some conduit for the Pakistan based terrorists, it tends to make the allegations of Afzal Guru in regard to Davinder Singh credible. Afzal Guru was hanged in 2013 for his alleged involvement in Parliament terror attack of 13 December 2001, against whom the Supreme Court of India found no evidence of direct complicity, but pronounced death sentence on him because it opined that such a heinous crime (attack on Indian Parliament) should not go unpunished. Afzal kept pleading that Davinder Singh had introduced him to one Mohammad, later turned out to be the ring leader of terrorist group that launched the Parliament attack, who died on the spot in the encounter along with all the other members of that group, in which nine people, including four security personnel also died in the encounter. Afzal’s claim was that he neither knew the Mohammad gang nor was involved in the planning or execution of the Parliament attack. He said he was given a limited task by Davinder Singh and having completed that he returned to Srinagar. Afzal was nabbed at the Srinagar inter-state bus stand while deboarding from a bus presumably coming from Delhi.

The white Ambassador car bearing a Home ministry and a Parliament parking label, closely followed the then Home Minister and Deputy Prime minister L K Advani’s motorcade to get past the Parliament gate barriers, though a lady CRPF constable immediately noticed the discrepancy, ran after the terrorists’ car and was shot dead by them on the road itself.

Afzal claimed that at Davinder’s instance he had helped that Mohammad to hire a place of residence as well as buy a white ambassador car from the second-hand car bazar in Karol Bagh. Afzal was a surrendered Kashmiri militant, against whom till then there was no record of indulging in any terror activity. He was in fact aspiring to become a doctor but later crossed over to Pakistan and then returned disillusioned and disheartened. He was then under the direct surveillance charge of the Special Task Force (STF) where he first met Dy SP Davinder Singh, in charge of STF, who allegedly tortured him and extorted nearly a lakh rupees from him, which he raised by selling his wife’s jewellery and his new scooter.

In 2006, that is much before Afzal was hanged, Davinder admitted to a Kashmir Journalist Parvez Bukhari that he had tortured Afzal while investigating about another terrorist Ghazi Baba. Curiously Afzal’s arrest or detention is not shown in any records of J&K Police, implying that he was illegally detained by Davinder Singh led Special Task Force (STF) dealing directly with surrendered Kashmiri militants and supposed to keep a sharp eye on them.

Thus, Afzal was obviously in awe and fearful of Davinder Singh who Afzal alleged, directed him to accompany Mohammad and help him in arranging accommodation, which he did. Beyond that he had no role in the attack, he pleaded. He even gave out Davinder Singh’s mobile number and asked for checking call records of the conversations between Davinder Singh and him. No media stalwart bothered to take Afzal’s claims seriously and finally the man was hanged.

Arrested Jammu and Kashmir Dy SP Davinder Singh was “being groomed by Pakistani officials for obtaining sensitive information” and had helped Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HuM) terrorists obtain weapons from across the border, the NIA told a special court in Jammu. How long and since when the “grooming” of Davinder Singh was carrying on, the NIA didn’t care to disclose, nor it may in future either for that may open too many cans of worms.

Davinder Singh had joined the J&K Police force as a sub-inspector in 1990 and rose fast to the post of Dy. SP because of apparent good work. He was lauded for his meticulous ground network and for having effected multiple successful operations against terrorists in the Valley, At the time of his arrest too he was heading the anti-hijacking unit of J&K police, posted at the Srinagar airport. He was building a mansion in Indira Nagar, a posh area of Srinagar under constant vigilance of security agencies because of VIP residences there and this mansion sharing its wall with the headquarters of 15 corps of the Indian Army overlooks its compound.

When Justice S N Dhingra, then the Judge of CBI special court, who completed the trial of the Parliament attack case within six month and ordered hanging of all the accused excluding Navjot Sidhu, married to one of the accused Shaukat Guru, a cousin of Afzal and an apple merchant, was confronted by some newsmen with Davinder Singh’s alleged complicity with the Pakistan’s terror outfits soon after his arrest, he simply brushed aside the issue saying it would have made no difference to his verdict even if this matter had been highlighted then. Incidentally, he tried the accused so summarily that first the High Court let off most of them then even the Supreme Court found no evidence against anyone of them, including Afzal, as stated above.

No investigations into the depth of Davinder Singh’s involvement with Pakistan terror agencies can actually complete without thoroughly examining the truth behind Afzal’s claims. But the catch is, any probe into that would entail how the Parliament attack terrorists could buy a white ambassador car with Home ministry and Parliament House parking labels. Later it was claimed that that car had been sold out by the Home ministry. But how come it still retained those high security parking labels?

I was then covering the Union Home ministry and while that day no one bothered to talk to newsmen except releasing formally the prepared statement, the next evening L K Advani the then Home Minister invited us to his room in North Block. But generally recounted what all appeared in the morning papers and all the crime sleuths sat tongue tied listening attentively to him. I gathered some courage and asked him, that the news reports also mentioned two things, One, that the white ambassador car of the terrorist bore a Home ministry sticker and that it was closely following Advani’s cavalcade. Advani looked intently at me for a few seconds and then remarked, “Good question, but the media has also mentioned that the sticker was downloaded from the internet.” No one else bothered to further question him how could this high-security document be downloaded from the internet and if that site had been hacked why was no information passed on in time. Advani’s explanation sounded very hollow and unconvincing. But since other journalists only looked rather accusingly at me and won’t further that query, I did not dare to cross-examine him either. But it was obvious that the Government was keeping certain crucial information about the Parliament attack terrorists from public knowledge.

It stands to reason that the terrorists were aware, perhaps through Davinder Singh that such a car had recently been disposed of by the Home Ministry and was available with a certain second-hand car dealer of Karol Bagh, which helped them in planning their operation. For without such a car they would have found nearly impossible to get past the security gates of Parliament House. Such a probe could implicate too many top guns and therefore it is unlikely the probe would go beyond the current immediate charge of involvement with HuM.

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The Author:

Faraz Ahmad is a veteran journalist of over four decades, with varied experience of reporting crime and politics, both local and national in Mumbai, Chandigarh and Delhi. He has to his credit a book titled: ‘Assassination of Rajiv Gandhi: An Inside job? He is occasionally freelancing for various digital sites as well as print media including The Indian Express, The Tribune, The Deccan Chronicle/Asian Age, National Herald, Hard News, Mass Media, and writing regularly on his blog: https://faraz1951.wordpress.com/

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