A top separatist commander, Saifullah Mir, was killed in a gun battle in the Indian Illegally Occupied Kashmir on Sunday, police said.
Kashmir region’s Inspector General of Police Vijay Kumar said that Mir, the operational chief commander was killed while a suspect was held during a gunfight in the Rangreth area on the outskirts of the Srinagar city.
“On the basis of a specific lead, joint teams of police and CRPF [India’s Central Reserve Police Force] laid a cordon in Rangreth and later the army also joined in the operation to eliminate the holed up commander,” Kumar said.
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Mir took over as the militant chief after the previous commander Riyaz Naikoo was killed in May this year. Kumar, the police chief, termed the killing of Mir as a “big success” of the security forces and “an important achievement towards the elimination of militancy”.
Mir had joined militant ranks in 2014 and operated under slain commander Burhan Wani — a top leader who was killed in an encounter with the Indian forces in 2016 and has since become a symbol of protests against the government in the disputed territory.
Earlier in the day, Director General of Police Dilbagh Singh said separatism has been eradicated in the region to a large extent in northern Kashmir while infiltration at the Line of Control — a de facto border that divides the disputed valley between the two neighbors India and Pakistan — has also been plugged.
The dead commander, Saifullah Mir, was the chief of operations of the region’s largest rebel group, Hizbul Mujahideen.
— Syeda Yasmeen Ali (@yasmeen_9) November 2, 2020
According to police sources, more than 180 militants and over two dozen government forces have been killed this year in the region despite the looming pandemic crisis.
Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China.
Since they were partitioned in 1947, New Delhi and Islamabad have fought three wars — in 1948, 1965, and 1971 — two of them over Kashmir. Also, in Siachen glacier in northern Kashmir, Indian and Pakistani troops have fought intermittently since 1984. A cease-fire took effect in 2003.
Some Kashmiri groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence, or for unification with neighboring Pakistan. According to several human rights organizations, thousands have reportedly been killed in the conflict since 1989.
Anadolu with additional input by GVS News Desk