Hizb’s Riyaz Naikoo, aide killed in Beighpora Awantipora

Government forces during a gunfight in Kashmir
Government forces during a gunfight in Kashmir (Photo Credit: Reshi Irshad)

SRINAGAR — Operational Chief Commander of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen Riyaz Naikoo and his associate were killed in a gunfight with a joint team of police, Army and CRPF at Beighpora area in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district, officials said on Wednesday.

Official sources said said that a joint team of Police, Army’s 55 Rashtriya Rifles and CRPF had launched a search operation in Beighpora area, Naikoo’s hometown, late last night. As they zeroed in on the suspected house, they said, the militants opened fire which was retaliated, triggering off an encounter in which two militants including Naikoo and his aide Adil were killed.

Inspector General of Police (Kashmir), Vijay Kumar (IPS) confirmed the killing of Naikoo and his associate in the gunfight. He said 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.

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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 08 July, 2016.

Naikoo, who as per security establishment was working under code name Mohammad Bin Qasim, became 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.

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Naikoo, who figured in the list of 12 most wanted militants issued by the Army in 2017, was also in the hit-list of 17 top militants issued by intelligence agencies in 2018 and carried Rs 12 lakh on head, being a A++ category militant.

Meanwhile, two more militants were killed in encounter with government forces at Sarshali Khrew area of Awantipora, police said.

Meanwhile, sources said that Naikoo and Adil besides two other militants—Adil Manzoor Wani of Padgam Pora and Rafiq Ahmad Dar of Kernibal Samboora—killed in the gunfight at Sharshali Khrew Pulwama were buried in presence of magistrate at Sonamarg Ganderbal.

Mobile internet has been also suspended across the Valley to avoid any law and order problem for precautionary measures.

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