Hizb Commander Riyaz Naikoo Killed in Pulwama, Buried in Sonmarg

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Road leading to Beighpora where Naikoo was killed- KO Photo Abid Bhat

SRINAGAR: – A top Hizbul Mujahideen commander Riyaz Ahmad Naikoo was on Wednesday killed in an encounter with armed forces in his home village in Pulwama district.

Authorities soon snapped cell phone and mobile internet services across Kashmir valley and clamped a curfew as a precautionary measure, in anticipation of possible protests, police said, adding that there are strict restrictions on the movement of people.

Naikoo, 35, was one of the most wanted militants in Kashmir and his death is a serious blow to Hizbul Mujahedeen.

Confirming he killing Inspector General of Police Kashmir Vijay Kumar said Naikoo and his associate Adil were killed in the gunfight.

Naikoo, operational commander of the banned Hizbul Mujahideen, was trapped in Beighpora village in Pulwama, the officials said.

They added that Naikoo’s family has already been informed about it.

A police spokesperson said earlier in the morning that a top militant commander along with an accomplice was trapped in an encounter but did not reveal his identity.

Later in the day, officials disclosed that the man in their sights was Naikoo, who carried a reward of Rs 12 lakh. They had been looking for him for eight years.

Naikoo became the de facto chief of the militant group after the death of Burhan Wani, the poster boy of militancy in the Valley, in July 2016.

The encounter, which started late on Tuesday, 5 May, night went on till Wednesday afternoon.

One report said Riyaz Naikoo had come to his village home when the government forces including the Rashtriya Rifles (RR), Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and the Special Operations Group (SOG) of the local police, moved in quickly to seal all entry and exit points of the village.

Over 2 dozen injured in clashes 

At least 25 people were injured as government forces opened fire and resorted to pellets firing to disperse groups of protesters near the encounter site in Beighpora area.

Reports and official sources said that people came out on the streets and staged protests as soon as news spread that Riyaz Naikoo has been trapped in the cordon laid by police, army and CRPF.

As the day progressed, many more people from adjoining villages also reached the Beighpora and started pelting stones at the deployments of police and paramilitary CRPF in the fringes of the cordon, they said.    

The government forces resorted to live ammunition besides used pellets to disperse the protesters who dispersed and regrouped repeatedly, they said. Many people were injured in the clashes and 25 of them were shifted to Pulwama hospital and other health facilities in the southern Kashmir district. 

According to Medical superintendent of District Hospital Pulwama Dr Mir Mushtaq sixteen injured were received at the hospital. “Four of them had bullet wounds while remaining had received pellet injuries,” he said, adding, “All of them were shifted to Srinagar’s SMHS hospital for specialized treatment.” 

Medical Superintendent SMHS hospital Dr Nazir Choudhary also confirmed that 16 persons, four of them having bullet and other pellet wounds, were received and admitted to the hospital.

Nine more people have been admitted to nearby hospitals or were discharged after treatment, they added. Some police and paramilitary forces also suffered injuries in the clashes but exact number was not known.

Sonmarg Burials

Meanwhile, according to unconfirmed reports bodies of Naikoo and his associate Adil besides two other militants– Adil Manzoor Wani of Padgam Pora and Rafiq Ahmad Dar of Kerinibal Samboora—killed in a gunfight at Sharshali Khrew Pulwama early on Wednesday were shifted to Sonmarg (Ganderbal district) and buried there.

Police Version

Police in statement issued on Wednesday evening said that on specific inputs two cordon and search operations were launched by J&K Police and SF at Sarshali and Beigpora in Awantipora.

These cordon and search operations led to encounters as the hiding terrorists fired upon the operation parties.

During these encounters four terrorists were neutralized.

In Sharshali encounter 02 terrorists of LeT were killed. The identification of killed terrorists is being ascertained. Incriminating material including arms and ammunition were recovered from the site of encounter.
In the second operation in Beigpora village of Awantipur district, a top terrorist commander was trapped along with his associate. The operation was launched last evening and contact was established with hiding terrorists in the morning today.

In this encounter two terrorists were killed. One of the terrorists has been identified as Riyaz Naikoo.

He was the Chief operational Commander of (HM) outfit in Kashmir.

He joined Militant ranks of HM outfit in May 2012 and was a close associate of Burhan Wani. After Zakir Musa’s defection from HM to form his own Outfit called Ansar Gazwat ul Hind, he took command of HM outfit in Jammu Kashmir. Pertinent to mention that Zakir Musa was eliminated in operation last year.

Naikoo had been continuously making audio and video clips and putting up on social media to motivate youth to join militancy and went on recruiting new boys. He was responsible for a large number of innocent youths getting into militant ranks and indulging in serious violence against local population and SF.

He was a masterminded behind the revival of HM outfit in jammu and Kashmir. He also released videos / audios on number of occasions carrying Pro-Pakistan and separatist propaganda.

He executed a series of attacks on policemen, SF and civilians. He resorted to brutal killings of civilians branding them as police/SF informers.

He looted orchard owners and farmers to collect funds for his outfit.He also has been collecting booty from illicit cultivation of opium and bhang in South Kashmir. His outfit also figured in narco trade case in Jammu where a huge sum of sale proceeds was transferred to one of his contacts. Some of the Killings/ violence where he was directly involved were –

1) killing of Haji Ghulam Mohd Dar Father Of a Sarpanch At Dogripora 0n 8-3-2014

2) Firing On Police Bus Near Bhatpora Tokena

3) killing of Gh Mohi-Ud-din Dar

4) killing of Javaid Akbar Khanday R/o Khandaypora

5) killing of a Police HC Ashiq Hussain Mir at Padgampoara crossing.

6) kidnapping of constable Naseer Ahmad 7) looting of 09 weapons from the residence of ex MLA Wachi.

8) killing of six migrant labour in Kulgam

9) killing of truck drivers and fruit traders post Aug 5.

10) Release of an audio tape threatening attacks on the Jail staff after preferential treatment being provided to militants and the separatists lodged in various jails was discontinued.

Apart from the above he was involved in many other cases of heinous crime for which a big number of FIRs were registered against him.

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