A Hizbul Mujahideen commander, active since 2012, was killed in a gunfight at a hideout, a day after he was arrested at a checkpoint in Handwara, north Kashmir, on Wednesday.
“The Handwara Police, along with the Sashastra Seema Bal [SSB], were stopping a number of vehicles during routine checking at Watyen area of Handwara. A pedestrian was behaving in a very suspicious manner and was tactfully apprehended. One grenade was recovered from his possession. During questioning, he identified himself as Mehraj-ud-din Halwai, alias Ubaid Son, from Sopore,” Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Vijay Kumar said.
The police said, on his disclosure, a cordon-and-search operation was launched at Pazipora Renan in Kralgund area of Handwara. “When the search operation started, Halwai tried to pinpoint the location where he had kept his arms and ammunition. Upon reaching the disclosed hideout, he picked up his hidden AK-47 rifle and started firing indiscriminately. He was killed in the ensuing gunfight,” IGP Kumar said.
The police said incriminating material, arms and ammunitions, including an AK-47, four magazines, a powerbank, blanket, medicines, etc., were recovered from the hideout.
“Halwai was a categorised ‘A++ terrorist’ and was a commander of the Hizbul Mujahideen. He was active since 2012 and was involved in several killings in north Kashmir,” he said.
He said the slain militant had a diploma in computers and was well acquainted with modern means of communication. “He was instrumental in motivating and recruiting youth into militant ranks, besides raising funds for the promotion of terrorist activities,” the IGP said.
Meanwhile, the police said internet services would not be snapped on July 8, the death anniversary of Burhan Wani, a slain Hizbul Mujahideen commander, and July 13, the anniversary of the day when protesters were killed in 1931 during the Dogra regime.
“Police will not snap Internet services, but surveillance will be increased to keep anti-social and anti-peace elements at bay. There have been no civilian killings in Kashmir since August 5, 2019. Anti-peace elements may try to foment trouble on July 8 and July 13,” the police said.