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The Story of Qayoom Najar, Kashmir’s Most Mysterious Militant

Qayoom Najar, Kashmir’s most notorious militant, heads a splinter Hizbul group. Who is he?

Updated
India
4 min read
 Development has suffered a major setback in Sopore over the last two decades of violence in J&K. (Photo: Jehangir Ali)

(The story was first published on 7 August 2015. It has been republished from The Quint’s archives in light of security forces gunning down a militant, suspected to be Kashmir's top militant commander Abdul Qayoom Najar, in Uri on Tuesday.)

Abdul Ahad Najar, 72, vividly remembers the day in 2005 when his son, Abdul Qayoom, assaulted a girl next door for throwing garbage into their lawn.

The girl’s family went to the police, but Qayoom, who was 31 then, evaded arrest.

Qayoom Najar’s family lives in an unfinished house amid paddy fields in Sopore’s Naseem Bagh locality. (Photo: Jehangir Ali)
Qayoom Najar’s family lives in an unfinished house amid paddy fields in Sopore’s Naseem Bagh locality. (Photo: Jehangir Ali)

Frustrated at being unable to catch him, police targeted Qayoom’s family. They carried out night raids frequently at their Batpora house in Kashmir’s Sopore district, during which Abdul Ahad and his two other sons were allegedly detained and tortured.

Qayoom, eldest among six children, went on to join Hizb-ul-Mujahideen. Today, he is one of the most wanted militants in Kashmir, best known for targeting the telecommunication infrastructure in the Valley.

As recently as last month, grenades were lobbed in broad daylight at two telecom offices and towers, one barely a kilometre away from Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s office. Qayoom’s hand is suspected in this attack.

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Breaking Away From The Hizb

One of the longest surviving militants in Kashmir, Qayoom parted with Hizb-ul-Mujahideen last autumn over a plan to target 30 people for ‘harming the freedom movement’. Qayoom had allegedly prepared the ‘hit-list’, which included a senior Hurriyat leader, who had a militant from Pattan killed by security forces in Srinagar.

The Hizb suspended Qayoom, with the outfit’s chief Syed Salahuddin blaming him for “murdering innocent people, targeting Hurriyat leaders and attacking the telecom set up in the Valley”.

Who is Qayoom Najar?

There are no photos of him and he was last seen in public, a decade ago.

A bounty poster released by J&K Police announcing a reward of Rs 10 lakh on Abdul Qayoom Najar. The photo was of a local businessman, not Qayoom.  (Photo: Jehangir Ali)
A bounty poster released by J&K Police announcing a reward of Rs 10 lakh on Abdul Qayoom Najar. The photo was of a local businessman, not Qayoom.  (Photo: Jehangir Ali)

Qayoom became a source of embarrassment for the police recently – a wanted poster announcing a reward of Rs 10 lakh for information on Qayoom inadvertently showed the photo of a businessman from Kupwara.

 The businessman from Kupwara who was shown as Najar in the bounty-poster (above) had taken the picture in a public park. (Photo: Jehangir Ali)
The businessman from Kupwara who was shown as Najar in the bounty-poster (above) had taken the picture in a public park. (Photo: Jehangir Ali)

Details of Qayoom’s personal life are sketchy.

Before joining Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, Qayoom used to assemble transformers for a living, his family claims.

He is reportedly married, but his ‘wife’ lives in Sopore with her parents. Qayoom’s mother, Hajra Begum, expected a comfortable life after having five sons.

We had planned an entirely different life. I had five sons. They could have done many things together, but instead, we have spent the last ten years in agony.
— Hajra Begum, Qayoom’s Mother

Since Qayoom joined Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, the family has moved house four times.

Twice, landlords asked them to leave, not ready to risk housing a known militant’s family.

The stigma and danger of having a militant in the family has split the Najar family, too. Qayoom’s brother, Bashir, shifted to Srinagar where he works as a salesman. His other brother, Shabir, has moved out, too, leaving the parents to take care of an asthmatic son who was born after Qayoom disappeared and a young daughter.

I couldn’t bear the harassment. I have three children; two of them go to school. We didn’t want to compromise their future, so I fought with my husband and we moved out.
— Qayoom’s Sister-in-law

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Conspiracy Theories

Hizb-ul-Mujahideen’s decision to suspend Qayoom, who allegedly leads a group of 10 militants, came at a time when National Security Advisor Ajit Doval had visited the state.

Residents of Sopore, who knew Qayoom before he joined the Hizb, believe he has fallen into his own “trap”, especially after he claimed to have killed two persons in Sopore linked to telecom companies. They also believe four other mysterious killings, including that of a senior Hurriyat activist, may be linked to him.

His is the story of several Kashmiris who have been used by both India and Pakistan and later discarded.
– Local from Sopore’s Batpora area

The Hizb statement has cast doubts about Qayoom’s integrity.

Everyone believed that (security) agencies had orchestrated the killing spree in Sopore. But the (Hizb’s) statement has changed that perception.
— Batpora Shopkeeper

But Qayoom’s father says he is not even sure if his son is still alive:

We don’t know whether he is alive or dead. Some years ago, we were called to identify a dead militant killed nearby. We couldn’t identify him. Qayoom left home long ago. We don’t even remember his face now.
— Abdul Ahad, Qayoom’s Father

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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