Hizb chief Misbah-ud-din, 'Div Commdr' arrested
5 December 2007
The Daily Excelsior
Srinagar: In two separate operations, Jammu & Kashmir Police have apprehended the State's most wanted militant and Hizbul Mujahideen's 'Chief Commander of Operations' Nisar Ahmed Bhat alias Gazi Misbah-ud-din of Arwani, Bijbehara, from his hideout in Srinagar and 'Divisional Commander' for central Kashmir, Tajamul Islam, from a hideout in Sopore during last night. Two soldiers and a militant have, meanwhile, died in an overnight gunbattle in Awantipore area of south Kashmir. Visibly perturbed over the leakage, which Hizbul Mujahideen is said to have meticulously managed with the help of Police insiders late last night, all the senior officials in J&K Police remained tightlipped and, for the whole day, they refused to make any comment on the SMS circulated by two local news agencies. However, on the condition of anonymity, authoritative sources confirmed to EXCELSIOR that the Hizbul Mujahideen chief in Jammu & Kashmir, Gazi Misbah-ud- din, was picked up by a team of Srinagar District Police from his hideout near Sheikh Dawood Colony, Batmaloo, last evening. In two hours of the operation, a couple of local news gathering agencies spread the news of Hizb chief's arrest through SMS. Sources said that 43-year-old Misbah-ud-din, who has been a confidante and even driver of the organisation's 'Supreme Commander' Syed Salah-ud-din in Pakistan, was grilled at SOG headquarters in Srinagar for several hours. Sources said that Police conducted about a dozen raids on Misbah-ud-din's purported disclosures in central Kashmir in the last 24 hours. However, it has failed to make any significant arrest or recoveries. The Hizb chief's associates are believed to have shifted to safer places immediately after the leakage of the news of his arrest last night. J&K Police is understood to have ordered a departmental inquiry into the leakage that is believed to have botched up the most important part of the high profile operation. Misbah-ud-din has been operating as Hizbul Mujahideen 'Chief Commander of Operations' in J&K since May 6th, 2004 when his predecessor Abdur Rasheed Pir alias Gazi Shahab-ud-din alias Shardar Pir of Khonmoh, Pampore, was killed by Police and security forces in an encounter in the Srinagar interior locality of Maharaj Gunj. In the last over three years, Hizbul Mujahideen has not suffered any major setback at the hands of Police or security forces in Kashmir valley. Prior to Misbah-ud-din's appointment on the top most, Hizb had suffered a chain of reverses. On February 24, 2004, Police and security forces had eliminated Hizb's top wanted 'Divisional Commander', Abdul Majeed Wani alias Arif Khan in an encounter at Kanzkullah, Kulgam. On February 15, 2004, BSF had killed its 'Deputy Chief', Ghulam Abbas Malik alias Abbas Rahi of Doda in an encounter at Tengpora, Batmaloo. On January 16, 2004, Hizbul Mujahideen had suffered the worst setback when Army and Police killed its 'Chief Commander of Operations', Ghulam Rasool Dar alias Riyaz Rasool alias Gazi Naseer-ud-din at Shalteng in Srinagar outskirts. His elimination came 9 months after Hizb's 'Chief Commander of Operations', Ghulam Hassan Khan alias Engineer Zaman alias Saiful Islam, was killed by Police and BSF at Nowgam, in Srinagar outskirts, on April 2, 2003. Sources today said that Hizbul Mujahideen's 'Divisional Commander' for central Kashmir, Tajamul Islam alias Aslam, a resident of Aloosa, Bandipore, was picked up by Police from his hideout in Sopore town last evening. In this case too, officials refused to make any comment. Officials, who were forced to make a comment, refused to either deny or confirm the arrest of the two senior Hizbul Mujahideen functionaries. Sources said that in the last three-and-a-half years, Gazi Misbah-ud-din had played an important role to neutralise internecine clashes between smaller groups of his organisation and more significantly with some Pakistan-based Jihadi militant outfits. He is believed to have planned and executed a large number of operations for his organisation. Meanwhile, informed sources said that a patrol party of CRPF 130 Bn was attacked by two militants at Lidarmud village in Awantipore-Bijbehara belt in south Kashmir last evening. Even as a constable sustained injuries, troops maintained a cordon and called for reinforcement which came in quickly from SOG Awantipore and RR 55 Bn. During the operation, the militants, holed up at the house of one Ghulam Wani S-o Gaffar Wani, engaged the troops in a fierce gunbattle. Troops finally destroyed the target house and claimed to have killed two militants of Lashkar-e-Toiba outfit. Officials said that one constable of Awantipore Police, Imran Ali, sustained grievous injuries in his spinal chord. He was rushed to Srinagar and admitted to SKIMS for specialised treatment. Officials confirmed the death of two soldiers of RR 55 Bn, Havildar Chuni Lal and Rifleman Muzaffar Ahmed. Even as SP Awantipore, Sardar Khan, claimed that two militants got killed, he said that only one dead body had been recovered from the debris by late this evening. He identified the militant whose body was recovered as Abu Talha of Pakistan. On the other hand, spokesman of Lashkar-e-Toiba, Dr Abdullah Gaznavi, told EXCELSIOR over telephone that there were five militants of the organisation when the operations began at 1300 hours on Tuesday. He claimed that three militants managed to escape last evening and the fourth one in the morning today. He insisted that only one militant of the organisation got killed in the operation. The Lashkar spokesman claimed that four militants of his organisations came out successfully after leaving six soldiers dead and five more injured. He claimed that they also snatched away one of the slain soldier's Insas rifle and reached at another hideout safely.