An unholy association
The arrest of a Deputy Superintendent (DSP) of the Jammu and Kashmir police along with militants in South Kashmir has raised eyebrows. Traversing southern Kashmir in a private car along the Jammu-Srinagar Highway, four men were stopped at a police checkpoint. Two among them were identified as Hizbul Mujahideen militants while one was associated as a complicit member of the militant group. But the fourth person sitting in the car, and who has now attracted all the attention from authorities was J&K Police DSP, Davinder Singh. A president's medal awardee, Singh was recently photographed as part of the official team that welcomed foreign diplomats visiting Kashmir on January 9. Singh's presence in the car, whatsoever reason, itself is capable of opening a pandora box of insecurities in the Valley and beyond. For police personnel to appear complicit to a militant not only denotes corruption of immeasurable scales but garners apprehensions of nefarious designs lurking in the backyard of Kashmir that even the authorities aren't aware of. As a perplexed DIG, South Kashmir took cognisance of the complicated situation, it was prima facie suggested that DSP Singh's presence in the car was probably to fool police checkpoints, paving a safe passage for militants to their destination. Singh's involvement in the ploy as a carrier suggests a motive for money but it is crucial to ascertain if it was money or something bigger. After all, it is not likely for a veteran counterinsurgency officer to share a car seat with a militant. Not particularly popular in good books of Kashmir, reports of custodial deaths under his leadership of special operations group in Central Kashmir's Budgam district only add to his uncanny intent. While an investigation is being carried out, Singh's arrest is concerning news for the establishment and security agencies. One of the militants — Naveed Mushtaq, commander of Shopian — was identified to be a most wanted by the local police with 17 FIRs against him. Naveed's arrest prompted a massive search operation in South Kashmir that unearthed a militant hideout eight feet under the ground in Shopian. Singh's connivance with Naveed points to grim realities — ones which threaten national security for money. Singh's character sketch has one more detail which aggravates the severity of a police officers' arrest. Singh's public presence prior to Saturday's arrest is particularly concerning. Back in 2004, Afzal Guru — Parliament attack convict who was hanged to death in February 2013 — had pinned his name in a letter to his lawyer from Tihar Jail. Guru had alleged that it was DSP Singh who had ordered him to take a man to Delhi and arrange for his accommodation. That man was amongst the militants shot dead in the aftermath of the 2001 Parliament attack. A link existed between Guru and Singh but J&K Police stated that it had nothing on record in the press conference held after Singh's arrest on January 12. Well, now a fresh perspective to the case may yield more insight into the curious case of Singh's involvement with militants.
As in common knowledge, Kashmir has been a hotbed for insurgents for three decades now. Several militant groups with adverse objectives have been lurking in the hinterlands of Kashmir, sporadically and periodically attacking security personnel. Counterinsurgency operations have cost countless police officials slain in the line of duty and collateral damage has engulfed civilian population on many occasions. In such circumstances, a brewing bonhomie between militants and mules in the police establishment points to severe consequences; pinning the question of a hole in the system itself. When the erstwhile state of J&K was stripped of its special status and political figures detained in the Valley, there was perpetuated talk of J&K's local political parties having vested interests and alleged pro-militant agendas. Singh's involvement with militants is only a second clue to that pro-militant faction or space that may have been existed in the erstwhile state. The investigation has to be thorough in order to put together clues that may help allay fears of police involvement in militant activities. Not just J&K police, security agencies such as RAW, IB, CID, et al have to examine the situation and take cognisance of their respective departments to find any loophole. If it was a classic case of money-for-integrity on DSP Singh's part then what worries the current environment is the likeability of a veteran police officer getting corrupted by militant influence. But if the link between Singh and Hizbul Mujahideen goes beyond money to nefarious ploys and activities, it would prove to be a disaster for India in the face of its serious efforts to ensure the region's development and prosperity. In both cases, it is rather embarrassing for a counterinsurgency officer to be in connivance with insurgents who have wreaked terror in the region, depriving it of a stable and prosperous future.