Hizbul Mujahideen Valley chief killed
Saifullah Mir alias Dr Saifullah, Hizbul Mujahideen’s operational chief and the last surviving militant associate of Hizb poster boy Burhan Wani, was killed in a gunfight on the outskirts of Srinagar on Sunday.
Police said an associate of Saifullah was captured alive during the gun battle.
Saifullah was an “A category” militant and was largely active in South Kashmir districts of Pulwama, Kulgam and Shopian. It is not clear why he was in Srinagar.
“Dr Saifullah, who was the No. 1 commander of Hizbul Mujahideen, has been killed in the encounter. It was a very successful operation,” Jammu and Kashmir’s director-general of police Dilbag Singh told reporters on Sunday evening.
Valley police chief Vijay Kumar said police received inputs about his presence in Rangreth area of Srinagar on Saturday evening.
DGP Singh said Saifullah was active since October 2014 and was associated with Wani for a long time. Wani was killed in 2016, his death leading to an agitation that lasted for months during which around 100 civilians were killed in the security force firing.
“Hizbul Mujahideen was rendered leaderless after the killing of Riyaz Naikoo. It is in the same position again after elimination of its (new) chief commander who was running the terror machine of Pakistan here,” he said.
Mathematics teacher-turned-Hizb commander Naikoo was killed in May after leading the outfit for nearly two years.
Hizb has lost three operational chiefs after Wani’s death — Naikoo, Saifullah and Yasin Itoo. Itoo had replaced Zakir Musa in 2017 after he was expelled by the outfit for his pan-Islamist agenda.
According to officials, Saifullah was the son of a government schoolteacher and had in 2010 earned a diploma in medical electronics from the Industrial Training Institute in Pulwama. The villagers knew him as a health care professional and called him Dr Saifullah.
The overall head of the Pakistan-based Hizbul Mujahideen is Syed Salahuddin.