Indian security forces eliminate Hizb-ul-Mujahideen's top commander Riyaz Naikoo


In a major victory for the Indian security forces, Pakistan-supported Hizb-ul-Mujahideen's top terror commander Riyaz Naikoo along with two associate has been killed in an encounter in Beighpora village of Awantipora in Jammu and Kashmir on Wednesday.

Riyaz Naikoo, who was leading the banned Hizbul Mujahideen in Kashmir valley, had been trapped in the operation in his native Beighbora village of Pulwama district earlier in the day. The operation was supervised by Jammu and Kashmir director general of police Dilbag Singh.

Naikoo, Kashmir`s most wanted terrorist and Hizbul chief is learnt to be close to the Pakistan-based Hizbul chief, Syed Salahuddin, who was declared a global terrorist by the US in 2017. Naikoo had taken over as chief of the terror group after the outfit’s Kashmir commander Burhan Wani was gunned down in July 2016.

He had played a crucial role in holding the terror group’s hold in the valley after the group’s Zakir Musa split the outfit in 2017 to form his own group Ansar Ghazwatul Hind. Zakir Musa’s new outfit was claimed to be an affiliate of Al Qaeda. Musa didn’t get to lead the new outfit for long. He was killed in an encounter in Tral in May last year.

Naikoo carried a reward of Rs 12 lakh on his head. Naikoo had been masterminding the killings of local policemen to put pressure on them not to engage in anti-militancy operations, according to Zee News. It was because of this threat perception that policemen were advised not to visit their homes especially in South Kashmir districts where Naikoo held sway among the militant ranks.

Before joining the terror ranks, Naikoo worked as a mathematics teacher at a local school. He was known to have a passion for painting roses before he picked up the gun at the age of 33.

With the elimination of Naikoo, the security forces also avenged the deaths of five Indian security men recently killed in Kupwara district on May 3. In the deadly operation, an army colonel, a major and two soldiers, along with a Jammu and Kashmir Police sub-inspector, were killed. The 12-hour operation also resulted in the killing of two terrorists (with inputs from agencies)

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