On October 25, 1947, Vappala Pangunni Menon, India’s envoy par excellence, gifted a car to Maharaja Hari Singh, the last Dogra king of Jammu and Kashmir (hereon J&K). Or did he? The exact details of the events of that fateful era are lost behind a perennial fog of war. Some people say that the Maharaja had actually bought the car from the British. That it was one of the numerous vehicles used to transport Muslims of Jammu to the new, temporary border in Akhnoor and Ranbir Singh Pora, where they were disembarked, dismembered and massacred. The charons driving the vehicles would quickly turn them around to pick up and transport more people. The car was so efficient during the exercise, these people conclude, that the Maharaja thought it might impress even somebody like Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister. So the Maharaja tried to gift the car to Menon; but he refused to take it, reasoning that it might serve more useful purposes in J&K. Alas! A written copy of the purported gift deed has not survived, so we can only speculate about the nature of the agreement. One thing is certain though, the car became a ubiquitous fixture in Indian-controlled J&K.
Tag: Davinder Singh
Over the last two days we’ve been hearing about the arrest of a senior police officer—Davinder Singh, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) who was working with the hijack unit of the Jammu and Kashmir Police (JKP), at the Humhama Airport, Srinagar. Last year he received the President’s medal for gallantry. More recently he was a part of the reception committee to welcome the fifteen members of the EU Parliament who visited Kashmir in the aftermath of the abrogation of Article 370 (and probably wanted to experience at first hand the spectacle of its locked down population and jailed leaders). Davinder Singh was arrested in southern Kashmir on Saturday (Jan 11th) in an operation by his colleagues of the JKP, who intercepted the car he was riding in with two very senior militants and a cache of weapons. The police have said his is a “heinous crime” and that they are treating him as a militant.
Most people may not know who DSP Davinder Singh is. But for many long years he has loomed over those who have studied and written about the December 13, 2001 Parliament Attack – a malign presence whose impunity knew no bounds. RAIOT republishes Arundhati Roy’s introduction to 13 December, A Reader: The Strange Case of the Attack on the Indian Parliament. It was published six years before Afzal Guru was hanged. And Davinder Singh has a starring role in it. Today, thirteen years later, the thirteen questions she poses in this piece remain unanswered.