Indian troops kill top Hizb commander
6 May 2004
SRINAGAR: Indian police said on Thursday they had killed the chief commander of Kashmir's top rebel group Hizbul Mujahideen, the group's third military chief to be gunned down since October. Police said they shot dead Abdul Rashid, also known as Ghazi Shahabudin and Peer Shardar, in a firefight on Thursday in Srinagar. Two policemen were injured. 'We had sealed off a house in downtown Srinagar on a tip- off and once we ringed the house an encounter broke out in which the chief commander of Hizbul Mujahedin was killed,' Inspector General of Police K. Rajindra Kumar said. 'It is a big jolt to militancy in Kashmir,' he said. Hizbul Mujahideen, the largest rebel group battling Indian rule in the Muslim-majority Himalayan territory, called for a general strike on Friday in Srinagar to protest the killing. The group disputed the police account, saying their commander had been arrested by police outside Srinagar and shot dead in a custodial killing. 'Ghazi Misbahuddin is our new chief commander in Indian-occupied Kashmir after the martyrdom of Shahabudin,' Hizbul Mujahedin announced after a meeting in Muzaffarabad. Indian police said they had killed at least 12 chief and divisional commanders of Hizbul Mujahedin, which wants Kashmir to be part of Pakistan, in the past year. Shahabudin was a divisional commander until January when he was promoted after Indian troops shot dead the previous chief commander, Ghazi Naseerudin, along with group's financial chief Fayaz Ahmed, police said. Another chief commander, Saiful Rahman, was shot dead in October. 'We have been keeping track of them through local sources. That is why we are able to get them,' said a police officer who did not want to be identified.