Hizb commander killed in Srinagar outskirts

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Police on Sunday said that security forces killed a top commander of Hizbul Mujahideen on the outskirts of Srinagar and apprehended a suspect from the encounter spot.

Police identified the slain as Saifullah Mir alias Dr Saifullah alias Ghazi Haider, the operational chief of the HM.

The encounter broke out in Wawoosa area of Rangreth on Sunday afternoon after Special Operation Group of J&K Police, Central Reserve Police Force and Army’s 53-Rashtriya Rifles cordoned the area on specific information about the presence of militants.

The place where the encounter took place is less than a kilometre away from the old airfield and Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry Headquarters.

The house in which the militant had taken shelter suffered damage in the encounter. Soon after the exchange of fire the militant came out of the house and was killed in open.

Inspector General of Police Kashmir, Vijay Kumar, said, “We gave him an opportunity to surrender, however he fired on the search party, which was retaliated leading to an encounter in which he was killed.”

Saifullah, a resident of Pulwama’s Malangpora village, had a diploma in medical electronics from the Industrial Training Institute in Pulwama and another from the National Institute of Electronics and Information Technology in Srinagar. His knowledge of medical technology had earned him the nickname ‘Doctor,’ a senior police officer said.

Saifullah had taken over the reins of the militant outfit in May this year after his predecessor Riyaz Naikoo was killed in a gun-battle in his native village of Beighpora in Pulwama district.

“This was a successful operation and a major success,” Director General of Police, Dilbag Singh, told reporters at a presser here. “He was chief operational commander of militant outfit HM and active since 2014.”

Singh said Saifullah was involved in many militant activities and was instrumental in recruiting youth into militant folds. “He was involved in killing three cops, truck driver and conductor soon after the abrogation (of Article 370),” he said adding Saifullah was involved in attack on Sarpanch in Kokernag, grenade attacks on Police Post Kakapora and Police Post Lassipora.

He said his hand in killing of three BJP workers can’t be ruled out. “Militants do these activities collectively,” he said.

The police chief said that his killing is a set back to HM. “This is also one of the major achievements for strengthening peace in J&K,” he said. “Anantnag police was tracking him for the last two days and finally they killed him jointly with Srinagar police.”

During the presser DGP was flanked by IGP Kashmir Vijay Kumar, IGP CRPF Charu Sinha and DIG central Kashmir Amit Kumar.

Police records say Srinagar city has witnessed nine encounters this year in which 19 militants have been killed.

Meanwhile, police said body of the slain militant was taken to Baramulla for burial in presence of immediate family members.

Reports said that in the evening clashes erupted around the encounter site as groups of youth pelted stones on the deployment.