Two Hizbul Mujahideen operational chiefs, more than a dozen top commanders of different groups and over 200 militants were killed by forces in Jammu & Kashmir since January this year.
On Sunday, in a joint operation, Hizbul Mujahideen operational commander, Saif ul Islam alias Dr Saifullah of Malangpora Pulwama, was killed in a gunfight at Rangreth on the city outskirts.
Saifullah was one of the oldest active militants operating in Kashmir and had taken over the reins of the Valley’s biggest group only after the killing of Riyaz Ahmad Naikoo at Beighpora in Pulwama in May this year.
Naikoo and Saifullah’s elimination is being seen as a big setback for the Hizbul Mujahideen especially in less than eight months.
Over 200 militants have been killed in J&K this year and 190 militants were killed in Kashmir,” director general of police Dilbagh Singh said in a media briefing soon after Raikoo’s killing. “After the killing of Riyaz Naikoo, Hizb has been leaderless and this time again the killing of operational commander has made it leaderless.”
A senior police officer said Hizbul has still some experienced militants who are active and could be named the new operational chief. “Most probably, the new chief would also be from south Kashmir. Both Naikoo and Saifullah, who were killed within a span of eight months, hailed from south Kashmir’s Pulwama district.”
Most of the militants were killed in four districts of south Kashmir – Kulgam, Shopian, Pulwama and Anantnag.
By Hindustan Times