The Indian Army and Kashmir police had waited long to get their hands on Abdul Qayoom Najar, the longest surviving Hizbul Mujahideen commander in the Valley. His return to Kashmir from Pakistan was a worry for the agencies. Najar was on Tuesday gunned down by the security forces at Uri.
It was a tip off that the agencies got on WhatsApp which led the security forces up to him. His return was a worry since he was capable of reviving the Hizbul Mujahideen which has in the recent past faced several casualties.
The tip off was helpful, but vague said an Intelligence Bureau official. We were told that he was coming back, but the date and time was not known. Since the tip off, there was a high alert along the border. However by Monday, the IB managed to get information on the infiltration bid he was making. Intercepts about his movements were picked up and a trap was laid to nab him.
The Kashmir police say that Najar was a master at disguises. He would change his appearance very often and this helped him dodge the security agencies. However when he infiltrated on Tuesday, he had not changed his appearance. He tried to retaliate when the security forces tried to nab him, but was killed.
Najar, 43 had broken away from the Hizbul Mujahideen, but over the past few months had brokered peace with the outfit's head Syed Salahuddin. Sources say that he was returning to Kashmir in a bid to revive the Hizbul Mujahideen.
He was sent to India on the instructions of Salahuddin who is also the chief of the United Jihad Council. Najar had exfiltrated into Pakistan in 2015. He was accused of killing several security personnel and was also wanted for the bombing of mobile towers in the Valley.
Najar carried a bounty of Rs 10 lakh on his head and was classified as a Grade A++ terrorist.
He had broken away from the Hizbul Mujahideen and formed the Lashkar-e-Islam. Najar was expelled by Hizbul chief Syed Salahuddin blaming him in playing a key role in murdering innocent persons and indulging in character assassination of Hurriyat leaders and attacks on the telecommunication set-up in the Valley.
For years Najar, one of the most wanted militants of North Kashmir had kept the police and the army on toes. Najar came to the limelight after the attacks on mobile towers and killings of six civilians in Sopore and its adjacent villages. Though the Hizbul Mujahideen had been blaming the Indian agencies for these attacks, police officials were convinced that these killings and attacks are the handiwork of Najar and his associate Imtiyaz Kundoo.
The police had announced a reward of rupees 10 lakhs for information leading to the arrest of Najar. Najar, the longest surviving militant, was one of the top commanders of Hizbul Mujahideen. A resident of Sopore town, he joined militancy barely at an age of 16.
He was arrested in 1992 and later released. After his release, Najar recycled into the militancy in 1995. Though for many years, Najar was a militant, but he always aspired to become a top commander after killing and arrest of top Hizbul commanders, Najar was the senior most active commander and thus the de-facto operational chief of Hizbul Mujahideen.