Naikoo had escaped 3 searches and held Hizb united after Burhan Wani’s killing. The new challenge is the rise of violence, like after killing of Wani.
New Delhi: In a massive victory for Indian security forces, Riyaz Naikoo, the operational commander of terror group Hizbul Mujahideen, was killed in an operation on Wednesday in the Valley’s Pulwama district.
Very few outside the Valley had heard of the 35-year-old Riyaz Ahmad, not until three years ago.
A year after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, in August 2017 Indian army killed his successor, Yasin Itoo alias Mehmood Ghaznavi, in Shopian.
After which the militant outfit named Naikoo as chief of its operations in the Valley with the additional task of regrouping its ranks.
Born in April 1985, Riyaz was the son of a tailor of Beighpora village in Awantipora in south Kashmir and received a degree in mathematics.
Riyaz Naikoo was a maths teacher in a school. Village residents remember him as a teacher popular among students.
In 2010, when large scale protests broke out in Kashmir following the death of civilians in a clash with security forces, Riyaz was among several youths who were arrested for indulging in violence.
He was released in 2012. However, on June 1, 2012, he disappeared, his family claimed he was harassed and beaten by police. And when he resurfaced, he was cradling a gun.
Following years, Riyaz rose up the Hizb ranks and named chief of outfit’s operations in the Valley following the killing of Yasin Itoo.
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Naikoo was responsible not only for keeping the militant group united but also revived the Hizb.
In retaliation for the detention of his father, Assadullah Naikoo (70) in 2018, by police, he commanded the abduction of the family members of J&K police officers.
Over a dozen family members of policemen were kidnapped by militants from across south Kashmir within hours of his father’s detention. The police later freed his father and the family of policemen returned home.
Kashmir Inspector General of Police Vijay Kumar in January this year said, “If we are able to kill Riyaz Naikoo, Hizb would almost be wiped out from South Kashmir.”