Hizbul Mujahideen, one of the oldest militant outfits in Kashmir Valley, is in a visible leadership crisis after security forces gunned down its operational chief, Saifullah Mir, police said. Mir was killed on November 1 in a gunfight with security forces on the outskirts of Srinagar.
Mir, who was described by J&K police chief Dibagh Singh as the “number one commander of Hizb”, was a close associate of the outfit’s former commander Burhan Wani, a social media-savvy militant whose killing by security forces in July 2016 had sparked a months-long public unrest.
Mir, son of a government schoolteacher, joined the Hizb in 2014, but his family and friends came to know about his turn to militancy when a photograph showing him with an AK-47 went viral on social media. Mir worked under Wani and also appeared in a highly-circulated group photo with the former leader and other associates.
He was more commonly referred to as Dr Saifullah, a titled he earned in his village where he was known as a “healthcare professional”. In reality, he...