At least 16 civilians were injured in clashes that broke out in Beighpora village of South Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Wednesday. Clashes and stone-pelting were reported hours after the security forces killed Hizbul Mujahideen commander Riyaz Naikoo and one of his associates.
“We received 14 patients with pellet injuries and referred them to Srinagar,” Jameel Ahmad, the medical superintendent of Pulwama district hospital, told Scroll.in. “No injured patient is admitted in our hospital.” Of the 16 people, 12 have pellet injuries and four suffered bullet injuries. All of them are stable now, said Nazir Choudhary, the medical superintendent of Shri Maharaja Hari Singh hospital in Srinagar.
Minor clashes broke out in other parts of the Valley too. Officials told Scroll.in that mobile internet services have been suspended across Kashmir after the gunfight. All prepaid mobile phone services have been temporarily disabled too. Only postpaid BSNL connections and landline phones are working.
Thirty-five-year-old Naikoo was Hizbul Mujahideen’s operations commander in Kashmir and carried a bounty of Rs 12 lakh on his head. The police said that Naikoo was involved in least 10 incidents of violence, from killings to kidnappings. He went by the code name Mohammad Bin Qasim.
One of the longest surviving militants, Naikoo had joined Hizbul Mujahideen in May 2012 at the age of 27. Until then, Naikoo, a graduate from Beighpora village of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district, worked as a teacher at a private school and also ran a private tuition centre.
Following the 2010 summer uprising, Naikoo was arrested by security agencies for participating in pro-freedom protests. He was released in 2012. Naikoo’s stint as operational commander of the Hizbul Mujahideen, Kashmir’s oldest local militant group, is believed to have begun in August 2017.