Soon after Riyaz Naikoo, the former Hizbul commander in Kashmir Valley was eliminated by security forces last week, the Pakistan-headquartered terror outfit has announced its new commander. The 26-year old Saifullah Mir aka Ghazi Haider has replaced Naikoo as Hizbul's new commander. Moreover, the outfit has announced Zafarul Islam as the deputy chief operational commander in Jammu and Kashmir and another terrorist, Abu Tariq Bhai, as his chief military adviser.
Saifullah Mir: Radicalised by Naikoo 6 years ago
Saifullah Mir has been operating in Kashmir valley for the last six years now. After his sudden disappearance in 2014, it was later found out that he has joined militants' ranks. Notably, Riyaz Naikoo the former Hizbul commander, now killed, radicalized Mir to join the banned group.
Among his peers, Mir is also known as Musaib and 'Doctor Saif' as he treated militants injured in encounters with security forces. In contrast to his predecessor Naikoo who was a graduate, Mir is just a class 12th pass out from Malangpora in South Kashmir's Pulwama district.
As per a report in Hindustan Times, after completing his school education he joined vocational training with the biomedical course at government-run ITI in Pulwama. Later he was employed at Srinagar's National Institute of Electronics and Information Technology as a technician. It was after three years of his work, Naikoo motivated him to militant ranks.
His areas of operations include majorly in south Kashmir districts of Pulwama, Kulgam, and Shopian. He has been classified as an 'A category' terrorist. Mir is well versed in Riyaz Naikoo's network and activities to raise funds which include plundering orchard owners and get money from illicit cultivation of opium in South Kashmir.
As per security officials, Hizbul is involved in Norco trade in the valley. It is highly likely that the ruthless approach that Naikoo resorted to while his instinct as the commander of Hizbul is expected to be continued under Saifullah Mir.