The arrest of a deputy superintendent of police who was awarded a gallantry medal less than six months ago is shocking on various counts. DSP Davinder Singh, posted at Srinagar airport in the anti-hijacking squad, was arrested on Saturday by the Jammu and Kashmir police while travelling with two Hizbul Mujahideen militants. One of the arrested Hizb men is a “big catch” as he is a top commander involved in several recent terror incidents. It comes as a surprise when a veteran member of the security forces is caught colluding with someone, home-grown or foreign-trained, fighting the State. It’s at par with betraying the country on behalf of a foreign intelligence agency. Singh will be thoroughly interrogated and perhaps some of what motivated him will soon emerge. Some of it may already have, for as IGP Vijay Kumar told the press, Singh was being treated as a militant for his involvement in a heinous crime. Yet it is important to know the deeper motivation behind his action. Did he switch sides for money? If the Hizb men were his contacts in the world of terror — a legitimate relationship for a security officer — then had he got so close to his sources that he unwittingly crossed a line between proper handling of sources to actively colluding with them? Had he become disgruntled with the current political leadership for whatever reason? Or is this all just a big mixup?
It is also stunning that this gentleman’s name figured in the case of Afzal Guru, who was hanged almost seven years ago for his alleged involvement in the 2001 Parliament attack; his guilt was determined, according to the honorable trial judge, to satisfy “the collective conscience of the nation”. Guru apparently claimed to his lawyer Nandita Haksar in a letter that Davinder Singh had asked him to take Muhammed, a co-accused in the Parliament attack, to Delhi and arrange his stay there. In that 10-page letter to Ms Haksar, who reproduced it in her book, The Many Faces of Kashmiri Nationalism, Guru alleged it was DSP Davinder Singh who forced him to confess (during the Parliament attack investigation) to being in touch with militants and supplying them with weapons. Guru was tortured under Davinder Singh’s supervision; he was stripped naked, put in ice water, given electric shocks and had chillies stuffed and petrol poured in his anus. Davinder Singh later confessed to as much to a TV channel. In America, the fact that Davinder is now treated as a terrorism suspect — which Guru denied himself being — would be enough to show the earlier case as vitiated and it being dismissed. However, Guru is dead; proving that at the very least, the government ought to have inquired into his allegations and postponed his hanging till the investigation was complete. We may never know the entire truth of this sordid affair, but one thing is for sure: our criminal justice delivery system is rotten to the core.