Srinagar: The Hizbul Mujahideen is likely to make Riyaz Ahmad Naikoo as its local militant commander following the killing of Sabzar Ahmad Bhat yesterday in an encounter with security forces at Tral, according to a report by the India Today.
According to reports appearing in a section of media, the Jammu and Kashmir police see Riyaz Ahmad Naikoo as new Hizbul commander in the Kahsmir Valley. Riyaz Naikoo is said to be one the oldest militants of Hizbul Mujahideen. Unlike Sabzar Ahmad Bhat, Riyaz Naikoo is tech savvy. The terror outfit may appoint him as commander to use his abilities to galvanise support for militancy through social media campaigns.
Along with Altaf Kachroo and Saddam Padder, Riyaz Ahmad Naikoo is among the oldest members of the Hizbul Mujahideen. Riyaz Naikoo is said to be a top rated – A++ category – terrorist and carries a reward of Rs 12 lakh on his head. Riyaz Naikoo is a native of Durbug in Awantipora district. He is said to have escaped from the trap laid down by the security forces a couple of times over past three years. As late as the previous week, Riyaz Naikoo was cornered by the security forces in Pulwama district. But he escaped.
Riyaz Naikoo is considered a moderate among the hardline Hizbul Mujahideen militants. Naikoo released a video last year saying that he would welcome the rturn of Kashmiri Pandits to the Valley. Naikoo said that militants were not enemies of Kashmir Pandits.
Riyaz Naikoo is wanted in several incidents of killing of security forces including police officials. He was seen in some photographs with Burhan Wani, who was killed last year.
Riyaz Ahmad Naikoo came to limelight January last year, when he arrived during the funeral procession of Shariq Ahmad Bhat, who had been killed in a night-long encounter with security forces. Mixing with the crowd Naikoo made his way towards Bhat’s body along with Lateef Ahmad Dar and Ishfaq Ahmad Dar. Reports say that all were carrying Kalashnikov rifles.
Riyaz Naikoo fired several shots in the air. This was a revival of an earlier tradition of paying tributes to slain militants in Kashmir. The video was shot and widely circulated on social media. Many believe that this tactic adopted by Riyaz Naikoo brought many youths to terrorism in the Valley since then.
Riyaz Naikoo’s close associates Altaf Kachroo and Saddam Padder are also the local men, who joined the Hizbul Mujahideen. But unlike Naikoo, who has completed his higher studies, the other two are said to have studied till high school only.
Altaf Kachroo is a resident of Kulgam while Saddam Padder is from Heff in Shopian district. Altaf Kachroo had been arrested in the past for his association with militancy. He was released from detention under the Public Safety Act in 2014, following which he rejoined militancy.
Saddam Padder is said to have been a close associate of Burhan Wani. Saddam is active in Shopian. His family is said to be dependent on agriculture.