By Zahid Rafiq
SRINAGAR, Jammu and Kashmir
Indian armed forces killed Abdul Qayoom Najar, who was supposedly the "longest-surviving militant" in Jammu-Kashmir's Uri sector on Tuesday, according to police.
Najar was killed in a joint operation led by the army near Zorawar Post of Lachiproa Uri when the militant allegedly tried to enter Kashmir Valley from across the border, Senior Superintendent of Police Imtiyaz Hussain told Anadolu Agency.
"In recent years, his killing is the single major achievement by our forces against militancy," Hussain said.
He carried on his head a reward of $16,000 and had been a militant for over two decades.
Najar, 43, a resident of Sopore town in north Kashmir, had begun his armed struggle at the age of 16, according to police records.
He was arrested in 1992 and later released.
Qayoom was the chief operation commander of Hizbul Mujahideen in Kashmir till he led a rare rebellion against the group in 2015, forming a splinter group Lashkar e Islam.
The senior police official told Anadolu Agency that Najar was coming back to take over the leadership of Hizbul Mujahideen after their top militants were killed in the past two months.
Hizbul Mujahideen also confirmed the killing of Najar but said the slain militant was no longer a member of their group.
"Najjar had been 'relieved' from Hizbul Mujahideen on disciplinary grounds last year but he was a Mujahid," the group’s spokesman, Saleem Hashmir, told Anadolu Agency.
Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China.
The two countries have fought three wars -- in 1948, 1965 and 1971 -- since they were partitioned in 1947, two of which were fought over Kashmir.
Also, in Siachen glacier in northern Kashmir, Indian and Pakistani troops have fought intermittently since 1984. A cease-fire came into effect in 2003.
Kashmiri resistance groups in Jammu Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence, or for unification with neighboring Pakistan.
More than 70,000 people have reportedly been killed in the conflict since 1989. India maintains more than half a million troops in the disputed region.