Hizb’s Oldest Commander Among Three Militants Slain In Pahalgam Encounter: Police

SRINAGAR: Hizbul Mujahideen’s oldest commander was among three local militants killed in an encounter that broke out at Srichand Top forest area of Pahalgam in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district.

Quoting official sources news agency KDC reported that Mohammad Ashraf Khan (57) alias Ashraf Molvi, is a resident of Tangpawa area in Kokernag who was operational chief of Hizbul Mujahideen was among three militants killed in Pahalgam woods on Friday afternoon.

A recycled militant whose first affiliation with militancy has been traced to 2000, reports said adding that Ashraf Molvi has got arms training in Pakistan. He was credited for reviving militancy in Kokernag belt of south Kashmir.

Reports also suggest that Molvi was chosen as the operational commander for the valley after a meeting was held in Muzaffarabad (PoK). It has also been said that Ashraf Molvi, an A++ category militant, is a resident of Anantnag and was active in the organization for many years.

It has also been suggested that Molvi’s nomination at that time could have led to possible friction within HM outfit as he was never close to slain Riyaz Naikoo and his associates like slain Junaid Sehrai and Saifullah.

Molvi’s appointment as the operational chief had come days after the death of Riyaz Naikoo, who was killed by the security forces in a highly-sensitive operation which lasted for more than 12 hours.

Naikoo was rated as the most-wanted militant and had been on the run for the last eight years. Reports suggest that he was cornered by counter-insurgency teams on multiple occasions but had successfully managed to escape.

Sources said “He was an experienced militant with a Jamaat background. He was said to be the close associate of Bashir Lashkari, a Lashkar operative who remained active for almost 18 years before being gunned down in 2015”.

Pertinent to mention that Ashraf Molvi was killed along with other two militants whose identification is still being ascertained.

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