Ground Report | Srinagar
Riyaz Naikoo, operational commander of the Hizbul Mujahideen, and another militant were killed during an encounter with security forces in South Kashmir’s Awantipora, IGP Kashmir Vijay Kumar said on Wednesday.
Naikoo, alias Mohammad Bin Qasim, was trapped in Beighbpora village of Pulwama, South Kashmir before being killed.
“Inspector General of Police Kashmir Vijay Kumar ( IPS) confirmed the killing of Naikoo and his associate in the gunfight. He said that the operation was still underway.
The 35-year-old Naikoo had joined militant ranks in 2010 in the backdrop of unrest triggered by the killing of teenager Tufail Matoo allegedly due to a teargas shell at Rajouri Kadal Srinagar. Naikoo, a former mathematics teacher at a private school, was one of the close aides of the popular Hizb commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani who was killed in Bumdoora village in Kokernag area of South Kashmir on 8 July 2016.
Naikoo who as per security establishment was working under code name Mohammad Bin Qasim become the operational chief commander of the Hizb after successor of Burhan Wani, Mohammad Yasin Itoo alias Mehmood Ghaznavi, was killed along with two of his associates in an 18-hour-long gunfight with joint team of police, army and CRPF at Awnira, Zainapora village in south Kashmir’s Shopian district in August 2017.
Naikoo, who figured in the list of 12 most militants issued by the army in 2017 as also in the hit-list of 17 top militants issued by intelligence agencies in 2018, carried Rs 12 lakh on head being A++ category militant.
Meanwhile, two more militants were killed in encounter with government forces at Sarshali Khrew area of Awantipora, police said.
A joint team of Jammu and Kashmir Police, Army’s 55 Rashtriya Rifles and CRPF led the operation. They launched a search operation late last night after being tipped-off about the terrorists’ presence in Beigpora area.
Naikoo was killed days after an operation in Handwara, in which soldiers, including Col Ashutosh Sharma, Maj Anuj Sood, Naik Rajesh Kumar, and Lance Naik Dinesh Singh, were martyred.
After the gunfight ensued, mobile internet services were snapped across Kashmir, while restrictions were imposed in parts.
On 8 July 2016, Riyaz Naikoo took over as commander of Hizbul Mujahideen after the poster boy and commander Burhan Wani were killed in an encounter with security forces in Kokernag area of Anantnag district. Naiku had a reward of Rs 12 lakh on his head. Before joining the militant ranks, Naiku worked as a mathematics teacher at a local school. He was known for his hobby of painting roses before raising a gun at the age of 33.
Naikoo carries a reward of Rs 12 lakh on his head. Before joining the militant ranks, Naikoo worked as a mathematics teacher at a local school. He was known to have passion for painting roses before he picked up the gun at the age of 33.
Security forces hold Naikoo responsible for holding the Hizbul together after its possible disintegration when Zakir Musa broke away from the Hizbul ranks to form his own splinter group.
Musa split from the Hizbul in 2017 and formed his own group called Ansar Ghazwatul Hind that claimed to be the Indian affiliate of the Al-Qaeda. Musa was killed in Dadsara area in Tral tehsil in an encounter with the security forces on May 23, 2019.