Top Hizbul Mujahideen commander Riyaz Naikoo killed in an encounter with security forces in Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Wednesday morning. Naikoo was reportedly on the run for eight years and had a bounty of Rs 12 lakh on his head.
Amidst intense encounter with militants, authorities in Jammu and Kashmir had banned all mobile internet services across the valley. Strict restrictions were also imposed on the movement of people in the region.
According to officials, Naikoo was the operational commander of the banned Hizbul Mujahideen outfit. His killing came hours after a police spokesperson said that they had trapped a top ‘terrorist commander’ with his associate in Beighpora village in Pulwama. The spokesperson had not revealed the identity of Naikoo earlier.
Naikoo had assumed control of Hizbul Mujahideen in 2016 soon after the death of Burhan Wani, who was also killed in an encounter with security forces in July the same year.
Wani was described to be the poster boy of the modern-day militancy in Jammu and Kashmir. His death had led to the deterioration of law and order in the valley.
Reacting to Naikoo’s killing, Congress MP Rahul Gandhi tweeted, “I congratulate our security forces for bringing the terrorist, Riyaz Naikoo, to justice. The killing of innocent people by terrorists must never go unpunished.”
Naikoo’s killing comes just days after the Indian security lost five of their personnel including one Army Colonel and Major each in a similar encounter in Handwara.
Army officers killed in the gun battle were identified as Col Ashutosh Sharma and Major Anuj Sood. Also killed in the encounter was Jammu and Kashmir Police Sub-Inspector Shakeel Qazi. Two other Indian army personnel killed in the encounter have been identified as Naik Rajesh Kumar and Lance Naik Dinesh. All four army personnel belonged to the 21 Rashtriya Rifles unit.