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Second incident in 10 days: Now, ‘arrested’ Hizb commander ‘slain in Handwara gunfight’

In a second incident of its kind in the past 10 days, a top commander of Hizbul Mujahideen who was arrested by the armed forces in Jammu and Kashmir was slain in an encounter after he led the forces to his hideout in Handwara.

Mehrazuddin Halwai @ Ubaid was an active militant since 2011 and was a close associate of slain Hizb commander Abdul Qayoom Najar.

In a statement, the police said on July 6 they along with paramilitary forces were enforcing Covid-19 appropriate behavior and checking vehicles at Watyen when a pedestrian started ‘behaving in a very suspicious manner’, and was ‘tactfully apprehended’.

During his personal search a grenade was recovered from his possession, the police said. “During questioning, he identified himself as Mehraj-ud-din Halwai, a resident of Khushal Mattoo in Sopore,” they said.

During further questioning, the police claimed that on his disclosure multiple search operations were launched. “In one such operation in Pazipora Renan Kralgund in Handwara, when the searches began, the militant tried to pinpoint the location where he has kept his arms and ammunition. Upon reaching the disclosed hideout location, he picked up his hidden AK-47 rifle and started firing indiscriminately upon the joint search party which led to an encounter,” the police claimed.

In the ensuing firefight Mehraj was slain, the police said.

The police said Mehraj was well acquainted with modern means of communication by which he would communicate with other militants and plan & execute different militant activities on the ground.

He was instrumental in motivating and recruitment of youth into militant ranks besides was raising funds for the promotion of militant activities, they said.

A day after his arrest on June 28, top Lashkar-e-Taiba commander Nadeem Abrar and Pakistani militant were killed in an encounter in the Parimpora area Srinagar.

Giving details of the incident, a police spokesman said Abrar — a top commander of LeT involved in many killings — was arrested during checking of vehicles at Parimpora on Monday and put on sustained interrogation. The LeT commander confessed that he had kept his AK-47 rifle in Maloora locality, the spokesman said.

There was a specific input about militants carrying an attack on highways. Keeping in view the seriousness of the input, a few joint checkposts of the Jammu and Kashmir Police and the CRPF were placed along the highway, he said.

“On Parimpora naka (check post), a vehicle was stopped and the occupants were asked to show their identity cards. The person sitting in the back seat tried to open his bag and took out a grenade. The police party swiftly swung into action and grabbed him.

“Both the driver and the person sitting at the back seat were taken into police custody. After taking off his mask, it was identified that he was Abrar, a top LeT commander,” the spokesman had said.

He said a pistol and some hand grenades were recovered from Abrar’s possession.

From there, Abrar was taken to the house so that the weapon (AK 47 rifle) could be recovered. The police party was entering his house after cordoning it off when the Pakistani militant hiding inside the premises opened fire at the team.

In the initial round of fire, three CRPF personnel were injured and Abrar accompanying the search party also got wounded, the spokesman said. An Assistant Commander and a Sub Inspector were among the three Central Reserve Police force personnel injured.

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