Srinagar- Hizbul Mujahideen top commander Saifullah Islam Mir was killed in an encounter with state forces in Rangreth area of Srinagar on Sunday, police said.
State forces launched a cordon and search operation in Rangreth area near the old airfield following specific information about the presence of militants there. As the forces were conducting searches in the area, the militants fired. The forces retaliated, resulting in the encounter, said a police official.
A militant was killed in the exchange of fire, the official said, identifying him as Saifullah Islam Mir.
Incriminating material, including arms and ammunition, were recovered from the encounter site, he added.
Mir, 31, also known as Dr Saifullah and Gazi Haider, had taken command of the outfit after the killing of his predecessor Riyaz Naikoo in May this year.
He was one of the most wanted militants in the Kashmir Valley and involved in several attacks on the state forces, an official said.
Addressing a press conference here, Director General of Police Dilbag Singh said Mir, a resident of Malangpora village in Pulwama district, was active since October 2014 and was associated with slain HM commander Burhan Wani for a long time.
His killing is a huge success for the state forces, Singh added.
We had a successful operation today in which a top commander (Saifullah), you can say he was the number one commander of the HM, was killed. He was active since October 2014 and was associated with Burhan Wani for a long time, Singh said.
The police chief said the security agencies were tracking the HM commander’s movement from south Kashmir towards Srinagar for the last two days.
Singh said the state forces have killed over 200 militants this year so far.
This includes about 190 militants in the valley and the rest in the Jammu region, he said.
Earlier, Inspector General of Police (IGP), Kashmir, Vijay Kumar told reporters near the encounter site that Mir’s killing was a huge success for the state forces.
“This is not a small achievement,” he said.
Meanwhile police in a statement said that “keeping in view the prevailing pandemic due to COVID-19 and to ensure the safety of people from inherent risk of contracting the infection, the dead body of the slain militant shall be sent to Baramulla for his burial & last rites after completion of medico-legal formalities. The nearest family members of the slain militant shall be allowed to participate in the last rites at Baramulla.”
“In this connection a case under relevant sections of law has been registered and investigation has been initiated,” the statement added.
The statement further said that people are requested to cooperate with police till the area is completely sanitized and cleared of all the explosive materials, if any.”
Who was Saifullah
Saifullah Mir, known with many aliases like Musayab, Ghazi Hyder and Doctor Saifullah was classified as ‘A category’ militant by police.
Saifullah, hailing from Malangpora, Pulwama had mostly been active in south Kashmir districts of Pulwama, Kulgam and Shopian.
Saifullah had joined the militant ranks in 2014 and was currently the Hizbul Mujahideen’s Operational Chief for Jammu and Kashmir.
After higher secondary schooling Saifullah had undergone vocational training at ITI.
Police sources say after completing bioscience course at the government-run ITI in Pulwama, Saifullah got a job at Srinagar’s National Institute of Electronics and Information Technology as a technician. He continued with the job for three years before he joined Hizbul Mujahideen.
Saifullah took over Hizb’s Operations Command after Naikoo was killed in a joint military operation in South Kashmir in May this year.
As per official sources, Saifullah earner the sobriquet of doctor because he would treat militants injured in encounters.
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