Srinagar: The bodies of four militants killed in two separate gunfights in Kashmir, including the operational commander-in-chief of Hizbul Mujahideen (HM), Riyaz Naikoo, on Wednesday were not handed over to families but buried in Sonamarg, Ganderbal, in presence of a magistrate, reported GNS news agency.
Officials said that a joint team of the police, the army’s 55 Rashtriya Rifles and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) had launched a search operation in Beighpora area, Naikoo’s hometown, late Tuesday night. As they zeroed in on a particular house, they said, the militants opened fire which was retaliated, triggering off an encounter in which two militants including Naikoo and his aide Adil Ahmad Bhat, a resident of Panjaran village, were killed.
“The operation was launched last evening and contact was established with hiding (militants) in the morning today,” a police spokesman said in a statement issued here.
Naikoo, who died at 35, had joined militant ranks in May 2012. The former mathematics teacher at a private school was one of the close aides of the popular Hizb commander, Burhan Muzaffar Wani, who was killed in Bumdoora village in Kokernag area of south Kashmir on 8 July 2016.
Naikoo, who as per the government agencies, establishment was working under code name Mohammad Bin Qasim become the operational chief commander of the Hizb after the successor of Burhan Wani, Mohammad Yasin Itoo, was killed along with two of his associates in an 18-hour-long gunfight with the government forces at Awnira, Zainapora village in south Kashmir’s Shopian district in August 2017.
In 2018, Naikoo-led Hizb militants kidnapped eleven family members of policemen prompting the police to release his father Asadullah Naikoo from their custody. The police had picked Naikoo’s father from his Awantipora home in south Kashmir, a day after militants had killed four policemen in Shopian. Later, in an audio message, Riyaz had warned the police of dangerous consequences if the relatives of militants were not released. (With inputs from GNS)