SRINAGAR, India: A decorated Indian officer has been arrested for helping to transport rebel militants in Kashmir, the police chief of the restive and highly-militarised Himalayan province said Sunday (Jan 12).
Deputy superintendent Davinder Singh had worked for the police for decades and was a member of an elite counter-insurgency force in the disputed territory, which both India and Pakistan claim in full.
He was apprehended late on Saturday when his vehicle was pulled over at a police checkpoint south of Srinigar, the region’s main city.
“The fast moving car was stopped and searched. Two wanted militants and our officer … and a third person were arrested in the operation,” Kashmir police chief Vijay Kumar told reporters.
Kumar said police and intelligence agencies were questioning Singh, accusing the officer of a “heinous crime”.
Security forces recovered guns and ammunition from several locations in the follow up to the arrests, including from Singh’s residence in Srinagar.
Hours after the four men were detained, police killed three alleged rebels during a gunfight in southern Kashmir’s Tral district, where the arrested militants were based.
One of those arrested was Naveed Baba, the deputy commander of the local rebel outfit Hizbul Mujahideen.
Baba had stolen four assault rifles and deserted the police force to join the militant group in 2017, according to police.
Singh had risen steadily through the ranks of the Kashmir security apparatus during his career and was last year awarded a medal by the Indian president for his service.
But years earlier he was accused of forcing a man to help armed militants travel to New Delhi in a deadly attack on the Indian parliament in 2001.
Twelve people including five attackers were killed in the attack, which India blamed on Pakistan-based militant groups – prompting a months-long military stand-off that brought the two nuclear-armed countries to the brink of war.
India had accused Pakistan based militant groups of launching the attack and resulted in a months-long military stand-off at the border with Pakistan before both the armies retreated under international pressure.
Singh acknowledged in 2006 he had tortured his accuser, Mohammad Afzal Guru, while he was in custody, but the claims were not taken seriously by investigators. Guru was later convicted for his part in the attack and hanged.
Kumar told Sunday’s press conference that the allegations would now be revisited.
“We will ask him about the attack in the interrogation,” the police chief said.
DECADES OF REBELLION
Scores of militant groups in Kashmir have fought India’s administration of the territory since an armed rebellion broke out more than three decades ago.
Police and Indian troops are routinely accused of human rights abuses against the local population.
Security across the territory has been tightened since Aug 5, when India revoked Kashmir’s semi-autonomous status, arrested the region’s top political leaders and imposed a security and communications blockade.
Some restrictions have since been slowly eased but Internet services for the public remain blocked.