Hizbul Mujahideen commander Riyaz Naikoo was killed on Wednesday in an encounter with security forces in the Beighpora area of Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district.
The police said that Naikoo was the mastermind behind the revival of the Hizbul Mujahideen outfit in Jammu and Kashmir. “Naikoo was responsible for a large number of innocent youths getting into militant ranks and indulging in serious violence against local population,” the police said in a press release. “He also released videos / audios on number of occasions carrying Pro-Pakistan and separatist propaganda.”
“He executed a series of attacks on policemen, security forces and civilians. He resorted to brutal killings of civilians branding them as police informers,” the police added.
The Indian Army had confirmed earlier in the day that “two terrorists were killed” in an encounter with security forces in the operation. Naikoo, who had come to visit his home in Beighpora village, got trapped during the encounter in the Valley. “This make four terrorists killed by us in 24 hours,” Colonel Aman Anand, the Army’s spokesperson had said, according to ANI.
Jammu and Kashmir’s Former Director General of Police SP Vaid told NDTV that he was the most-wanted terrorist in Kashmir after Burhan Wani, who was killed in 2016. “Naikoo was almost like a poster boy in the Valley.” Vaid said. “He used social media extensively to record threats to police, their families and was responsible for the death of a number of army personnel. His elimination is a big success.”
Officials told Scroll.in that mobile internet services have been suspended across Kashmir after the gunfight as a precautionary measure. Prepaid mobile connections have also been suspended, officials from the home department said. All postpaid networks, apart from BSNL, have been snapped.
The Jammu and Kashmir police in a tweet had warned channels against reporting unconfirmed news. “Any speculative reporting unconfirmed stuff having law and order bearings is highly irresponsible on the part of some channels,” the police said “They are advised to hold their guns please.”
Meanwhile, two militants were killed on Wednesday in a separate encounter with security forces in Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir, PTI reported.
Security forces launched a cordon-and-search operation in Sharshali village of Pulwama after receiving information about the presence of militants, unidentified officials told PTI. The search operation turned into an encounter after the militants fired at the security forces, they added.
There have been a series of gunfights and encounters in Jammu and Kashmir in the last few days.
Five security personnel – an Army colonel, a major, two Army officers and a police sub inspector – were killed during an 18-hour anti-militancy operation on Sunday. The Army said that the operation was launched after intelligence inputs were received that terrorists were taking civilian inmates of a house in Changimul village hostage. Two terrorists were also killed during the operation.
On April 29, three militants were killed in a gun battle with security forces in Melhora village in Shopian district. On April 22, four militants were killed in a gunfight in the village.
Three militants were killed after an encounter broke out in Lower Munda in Qazigund area of Kulgam district on April 27. The encounter began when militants fired upon a police patrol party in Lower Munda. The previous day, the security forces killed four militants in an encounter in the district.