Davinder Singh has been framed, alleged the sister-in-law of the deputy superintendent of police arrested last week for allegedly trying to ferry militants out of Jammu and Kashmir.
“Usko phasaya hai (He has been framed)…. That man has never gone to his village in Tral for the last 30 years after he joined the police force because of militant threats,” the sister-in-law, who asked not to be named, told The Telegraph at the officer’s Indra Nagar home in Srinagar. She did not say who was framing him.
“If he was close to militants, why would he not go to his home all these years?” she asked. “They are saying he had links with militants although he has taken bullets (in anti-militancy operations) and is still limping because of an injury he received.”
Davinder is originally from Tral, a militancy hotbed that was also home to top slain militants Burhan Wani and Zakir Musa.
The claim that the officer had never gone back to his home in Tral, Pulwama, could not be independently verified but his former boss, K. Rajendra, who retired as director general of police, confirmed that he had received a bullet injury in his leg during an operation.
Davinder was seen as a top counter-insurgency hand and was DSP, anti-hijacking, before his arrest.
Rajendra said Davinder was never suspected in the past of having any links with militants and that he had delivered on the counter-insurgency front. He, however, said the officer was shifted out of the counter-insurgency Special Operations Group of Police in an unrelated case.
“In 1995-96, there was some case, an old case, but after that he was (again) in SOG. Then again he was out. I don’t recall exactly why he was shifted. Certainly, I was not the one to post him or shift him,” Rajendra said.
“It (pro-India credentials) was never doubted, even I can say that…. Yeah naturally (he was trustworthy). He was delivering at that point of time. But what worked 20 years ago may not work today….”
Davinder, who has now been suspended, was arrested last Friday while trying to ferry two top Hizb militants, including the deputy chief Naveed Babu, and an overground militant worker.
The arrest has unnerved the administration and the police were reluctant for the initial 24 hours to even acknowledge it, amid worries that it could expose the dark secrets of counter-insurgency operations in the Valley. Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru had in a letter to his lawyer said that Davinder had forced him to ferry Pakistani militants to Delhi ahead of the 2001 attack, suggesting it was an inside job. The claims were not investigated and Guru was hanged in 2013.
The Valley police chief, Vijay Kumar, on Sunday said Davinder was involved in a “heinous crime” and will be treated “like militants”. He also said the officer will be questioned about Guru’s claim.
Davinder and his family live in his brother-in-law’s house in Indra Nagar that shares a boundary wall with the army’s 15 corps headquarters. He is building a palatial house nearby. It is common for officers of his rank to have such houses, or ever better ones, in Kashmir.
The sister-in-law, who lives elsewhere but is now staying with her sister, said the family had never deserted the house after the arrest as the “media is claiming”.
“My sister and her son continue to live here. Today they have gone to the gurdwara for prayers. Their daughter studies in Bangladesh. You knocked the door and I came out. Did you find it shut?” she asked.
The sister-in-law, who was reluctant initially to talk to this newspaper and refused a conversation inside the house, spoke at the gate and later pleaded to write things that are “not known” to people.
“They (police) claim that they have recovered arms from this house which is absolutely a lie,” she said.