In a major setback to the Hizbul Mujahideen, the militant outfit’s operations chief in the Valley was killed in a gunfight with a team of J&K Police and paramilitary forces at Rangreth on the outskirts of Srinagar on Sunday.
Saif-ul-Islam Mir alias Dr Saifullah had taken over as the chief of the Hizb in the Valley after the killing of Riyaz Naikoo in May this year, and was one of the most wanted militants in Kashmir.
Early on Sunday morning, police and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel cordoned off the Rangreth neighbourhood after specific inputs about the presence of the militant commander in the area. A team of the Army’s 53 Rashtriya Rifles also joined the operation subsequently, police said.
As the security personnel closed in on the house, the militant opened indiscriminate fire. In the resulting gunfight, Mir was killed.
“This is a big success for police and security forces,” Inspector General of Police (IGP) Kashmir Vijay Kumar said. “We have captured alive a suspect from the spot, and we are questioning him”.
Mir, a close aide of Naikoo, took over as the Hizb’s operational chief after his killing on May 7. Mir, who belonged to Malangpora village in South Kashmir’s Pulwama, joined militant ranks in 2014, two years after Naikoo joined militancy. Mir had a diploma in medical electronics from Industrial Training Institute (ITI) and had worked as a technician in Srinagar.
Since Mir often helped treat injured militants, he was nicknamed “Dr Saifullah” in militant circles. After he took over the reins of Hizb, he was codenamed “Ghazi Haider”.
Mir was believed to have escaped with an injury from a fierce gunfight in Srinagar’s Nawakadal neighborhood on May 19, in which his deputy Junaid Sehrai was killed. Police sources said Mir would spent a lot of time in and around Srinagar city.
Police said Mir was involved in several militant activities including killings of policemen in South Kashmir. “As per police records, the said terrorist (Mir) was chief operational commander of proscribed terrorist outfit HM and was active since 2014,” police said in a statement. “He was involved in many terror crimes and civilian atrocities besides was instrumental in recruiting innocent youth into terror folds.”
Police said Mir was involved in killing policemen in South Kashmir, a non-local truck driver at Bijbehara, and a civilian in Shopian. “He was also involved in an attack on Sarpanch in Kokernag, grenade attacks on Police Post Kakapora & Police Post Lassipora,” police said. “Besides, he was also involved in many similar terror crimes regarding which dozens of cases stand registered against him in different Police Stations”.
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