Is there more to one cop ferrying militants and are there facts about parliament attack case that never emerged?
The arrest of Devinder Singh, a deputy superintendent of police, in Kulgam on Saturday, along with Hizbul Mujahideen operatives Naveed Baba and Altaf, besides a lawyer alleged to be working as an overground worker for terror outfits, is a shocking indictment of the rotting security apparatus and merits an extensive and fair probe. Devinder Singh, who was working as an anti-hijacking officer at Srinagar airport is now said to have harboured militants at his house. While this is not the first time that his name has figured for complicity in terror activities, the evidence against him this time has been clinching enough as he was caught red-handed.
Devinder Singh has been earlier named in extortion and torture cases and more significantly his name appeared in the 2001 parliament attack case but none of these were earlier investigated. Parliament attack convict, Afzal Guru, who was hanged for circumstantial evidence in the case had written a letter to his lawyer which was not only much publicized but became part of the court document, in which he had mentioned the complicity of not just Devinder Singh but also several other police officers. None of these allegations, however, were investigated back then, raising doubts whether indeed it is a case of complacency on part of the state or deliberate complicity. It is pertinent to mention that many security personnel including those from the counter insurgency wing of the Jammu and Kashmir police have from time to time been named in serious offences. Devinder Singh’s arrest while ferrying militants out of the Valley now draws attention towards serious questions whether the certain operatives within the security agencies are participants in serious offences for petty pecuniary benefits with the state looking the other way callously or whether there is a larger systemic picture where the state is involved in patronizing such acts.
Only a thorough and fair probe can dig out facts and give the necessary answers. The probe need not stop at Devinder Singh alone but also reveal the probable involvement of others in and outside the uniformed forces. While the two militants picked up are alleged to have a direct link to the recent killings of apple traders and truckers from outside the Valley after they were singled out, it also needs to be probed whether these killings also had the police officer’s pugmarks. That he was posted in Pulwama during Pulwama 2019 terror attack and in Shopian in 2017 at the time of attack on district police lines also necessitate a probe. But any probe should not simply single him out as the possibility of him operating on his own without tacit patronage from the top is less likely. The arrest also puts the entire police and state machinery under the scanner as Devinder Singh was recently decorated despite his chequered past. No action was taken against him despite a sessions judge holding him guilty in 2003. This points to a deeper conspiracy.
The fresh revelations also bring back focus once again on the parliament attack case. Devinder Singh’s role in ferrying militants appears to be in tune with Afzal Guru’s letter, presented as part of his testimony before the court, which mentions that the police officer was part of the plot in which Guru was convicted for facilitating logistics. The letter, which was unfortunately completely disregarded as a figment of Guru’s imagination, in fact, does not only point out to the complicity of Devinder Singh but also mentions how several cops including Devinder Singh tortured him, extorted money from him and coerced him into doing shady jobs for them after he surrendered as a militant and wanted to lead a normal life. According to the letter, while Afzal Guru had no knowledge about the parliament attack plot, he was assigned by Devinder Singh to provide logistical support for the operation. While the letter cannot be taken as the absolute truth, it merits a thorough investigation, also in light of the fact that in several media interviews, Devinder Singh proudly admitted to having tortured Guru. A more concrete probe and re-opening the parliament attack case would be required to join the dots. One man has been hanged in the case. His complicity, beyond circumstantial evidence was never proved in the court but he was hanged to “satisfy the national conscience”. Whether he was partly innocent, if he was coerced into becoming a partner in the crime, his life cannot be returned. But surely, the national conscience would be better served with the knowledge of the exact truth.