Davinder Singh Helped Hizbul Commander Stay in J&K Last Year Too
Well-placed official sources revealed to The Quint that Naveed had travelled to Jammu and stayed there for 2 months.
Even as the investigation has been swiftly passed on to the National Investigation Agency (NIA), J&K Police have learned that the top-ranking Hizbul Mujahideen ‘commander’ Syed Naveed Mushtaq had comfortably stayed in the winter capital of Jammu in January-February 2019 with the help of the detained Deputy Superintendent of Police, Davinder Singh.
On Saturday, 11 January 2020, Deputy SP Davinder Singh was arrested along with two militants of Hizbul Mujahideen, including Naveed Mushtaq, and a lawyer while they were travelling together in a car on the Srinagar-Jammu national highway.
Arms and ammunition, including one AK-47 rifle and two pistols, were subsequently seized at Singh’s house in the high security zone of Indira Nagar in Srinagar.
Well-placed official sources revealed to The Quint that Naveed Mushtaq had travelled to Jammu and stayed there for about two months a year before his dramatic arrest.
“We believe it was their second visit to Jammu”, said an official who maintained that due to snowfall, quite a number of the militants had been shifting to Jammu every winter. “Sometimes they simply hide but sometimes they plan and execute terror acts,” he asserted.
According to the official, police have learned from preliminary questioning of the detained militants, and other sources, that Naveed had reached Jammu and arranged accommodation for himself with the help of Davinder, posted as Deputy SP (anti-hijacking) at Srinagar Airport.
Police are now investigating as to where exactly Naveed had stayed in Jammu, for how long, alone or with others and if he had planned or executed any subversive act. They are also trying to identify those who were in liaison with him during his hiding for over two months.
Police Investigating a March 2019 Grenade Attack
Sources revealed that the police would be particularly revisiting its investigation into case FIR No: 12 of 2019 dated 7 March 2019, regarding a grenade attack at the crowded bus stand in Jammu, in which two young civilians, one each from Uttarakhand and Mattan area of Anantnag, were killed and 30 more injured.
Hours after the blast on 7 March 2019, police had intercepted a Srinagar-bound vehicle and arrested a 15-year-old Class 9 student belonging to a village in Kulgam, while claiming that he had tossed the grenade and admitted his offence.
According to police, the detained teenager had revealed during the course of his interrogation that Hizbul Mujahideen’s commander in Kulgam district of South Kashmir, Farooq Ahmad Bhat, had inducted him into militancy and given him the task of lobbing a grenade in Jammu. Later in March, police had lodged the detained teenager at Juvenile Observation Home at RS Pora.
“We are now investigating if Naveed had a role in it, was he present in Jammu when the attack was carried out or was he not involved and had already left,” said an official.
At this point of time, the cops are sure that Naveed had no role in the biggest-ever terror strike that left 45 CRPF personnel dead in a car bomb explosion at Lethapora, Awantipora, on Srinagar-Jammu highway on 14 February 2019.
However, things would be investigated afresh in the light of the revelations made by Naveed and his associates. That suicide strike had been claimed by Jaish-e-Mohammad outfit, which released a video claiming that its local operative Aadil Dar had executed it.
The investigation into the suicide strike was already conducted by NIA.
Naveed Was Poised to Become Hizbul’s Regional ‘Chief Commander of Operations’
During his posting as a constable in South Kashmir and Budgam, sources said, Naveed had indoctrinated several residents of his Nazneenpora village in Shopian and adjoining areas and got them recruited into Hizbul Mujahideen. This included his cousins Farooq Ahmad Hurra and Syed Rubban, who were subsequently killed in two encounters in 2016 and 2019 respectively.
When Hurra was killed in the encounter in Shopian, constable Naveed came all the way from Budgam and carried home his body while leading pro-azadi and pro-Pakistan slogans. On one point of time, he had been transferred to Kargil but within a few months he managed his transfer back to Budgam.
On 20 May 2017, he decamped with four INSAS rifles, three belonging to his fellow guards, at the Food Corporation of India godown at Chandpora in Budgam district. He went underground and formally joined Hizbul Mujahideen with an announcement on his Facebook wall.
Police have learned that Naveed had been elevated to the position of Hizbul Mujahideen’s “Divisional Commander” for South Kashmir and he was about to replace Riyaz Naikoo as the outfit’s “Chief Commander of Operations” in the current month.
According to police records, he was involved in a number of terror strikes including 11 civilian killings in the months of September to November 2019, all in Shopian and Pulwama districts in South Kashmir.
According to the information available with police, once a dreaded terrorist, Naikoo had refused to continue with the civilian killings. He is believed to have slipped off the radar of security and intelligence agencies during the communication freeze in Kashmir after 5 August 2019.
Unlike Naikoo, Naveed had the “distinction” of having arranged not only a weapon for himself without getting it from Pakistan but also for three more recruits.
As regards the detained lawyer, police have learned that he was a frequent Pakistan visitor who had travelled to that country as many as five times in the last few years.
(The writer is a Srinagar-based journalist. He can be reached @ahmedalifayyaz.)
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