Naming 2 India chiefs Hizb’s deception plan

Intelligence sleuths have raised doubts over announcement by Hizbul Mujahideen in Pakistan that one Ghazi Haider is its new chief in India following the killing of Riyaz Naikoo by security forces last week, calling it a red herring by the terror outfit to mislead agencies in the country.

Top police officers in J&K and sources in the Central Reserve Police Force said that according to their information, 55-year-old Ashraf Molvi, also known as Mohammad Ashraf Khan, from Kokernag in Anantnag is the new commander.

Pakistan-based overall chief commander of Hizbul, Syed Salhauddin, had announced the name of Gazi Haider in a note shared in Urdu in that country during a condolence meet held by him. It was speculated that Gazi was a nom de plume for Naikoo’s closest aide Dr Saifullah Mir. “The name Gazi Haider has neither existed in the directory and profiles of 278 category A++ terrorists prepared by military intelligence or intelligence bureau since 2016 at multiagency meetings in Valley following then commander Burhan Wani’s killing nor in the ranks or code names shared over dark world web chatters of Hizbul or Inter-Services Intelligence,” said a top intelligence official.

Dossiers by intelligence sleuths, in possession of TOI, show that Mir is a 32-year-old biomedicine diploma holder from Pulwama known to be aggressive and flamboyant and prefers to work independently without ISI interference. Mir, who joined Hizbul in 2014, also operates in Shopian and Awantipora while his family, including his father Mohammad Akram and grandfather, have had strong ties with Jamaat-e-Islami Kashmir, a socio-religio-political organisation in the Valley.

Meanwhile, intelligence dossiers reveal that Ashraf Molvi joined Hizbul in 1999 and went to Muzaffarabad. He was arrested in 2007 under the public safety act and released in 2009. TOI has accessed photos of both Mir and Molvi. A top CRPF official said both operatives enjoy clout among the 70-odd Hizbul terrorists. “Both of them are under our radar,” he said.

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