September 2017 News

Top Hizbul Commander Abdul Qayoom Najar Killed In Uri Encounter

26 September 2017
The Indian Express
Bashaarat Masood and Mir Ehsan

Srinagar: Top Hizbul Mujahideen commander Abdul Qayoom Najar alias Jansahib was killed while he was trying to infiltrate into the Valley near the Line of Control at Lachipora in Uri on Tuesday, the Army and police said. Baramulla SSP Imtiaz Hussain termed it a significant achievement for the forces as the 44-year-old had been an active militant for 18 years. 'Najar, a resident of Mumkak in Sopore, has been active in terrorism since 1999. He was killed in an encounter near Zorawar Post of Lachipora, Uri. He exfiltrated to Pakistan in 2015 and was returning to Kashmir to take command of Hizb,' he said. The SSP said that Najar was sent by United Jehad Council commander Syed Salahuddin to revive the Hizbul, whose north Kashmir commander Pervaiz Wani and operational chief Yasin Yatoo were killed recently. Najar joined militancy when he was 16 and was arrested in 1992. After his release, he worked in an electrical shop for a few years and rejoined militancy in 1995. Before his second stint, Najar reportedly destroyed all traces of his existence. His friends said he went to his school, took away his pictures and destroyed his records. He also removed his pictures from family albums. For 22 years, security agencies were searching for a man who was, for all practical purposes, faceless. Najar was allegedly involved in dozens of killings of civilians, police and security personnel in Kashmir. In August 2015, he walked into a Vodafone showroom in Srinagar and asked employees and customers to leave. Within seconds, an explosion took place. Minutes later, a nearby Aircel showroom was attacked. Three hours later, a mobile tower in the city was attacked, injuring two civilians. These incidents led the police to focus on a newly formed group - Lashkar e-Islam, which was threatening mobile tower owners and mobile companies to close their business. The man behind this new outfit was Najar. Police said that relations between Najar and Salahuddin had soured since 2014, after he demanded more money for militant operations in the Valley. Najar was also reportedly unhappy as the Hizb high command had shifted focus to cadres operating in Tral instead of his cadres operating in north Kashmir. The flashpoint came in May 2015, sources said, when Najar and his associate Imtiyaz Kundoo threatened mobile operators in Sopore town and started killing people, including local Hurriyat leader Sheikh Altaf ur Rehman. The Hurriyat and UJC headed by Salahudin termed the killings the handiwork of Indian agencies and asked mobile businesses to continue. This was the time Burhan Wani took over Hizb in south Kashmir, flaunting his and his associates' pictures on social media. Hizb's Pakistan-based leadership announced the ouster of Najar and he formed Lashkar-e-Islam. Meanwhile, the police and Army launched massive searches for Najar after the civilian killings and attack on mobile towers. He broke the cordon at least twice and fled. By the end of 2015, Najar had patched up with the Hizb top command. He was called to Pakistan, only to be told to return on Tuesday. Najar could have been the biggest challenge for security forces as he had the ability to revive militancy not only in north Kashmir but in the entire Valley, police officials said. 'He was a clever militant commander who could have played havoc,' an official said. For years Najar was one of the most wanted militants of north Kashmir. The police had announced a reward of Rs 10 lakh for information on him. However, they had no picture of him. Officers said he used to keep changing his appearance, used wigs and moved around discreetly. Unlike Wani, who has a presence on social media, Najar lived in a cloak of anonymity.